Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The LuLac Edition #3479, April 25th, 2017

ELLA @ 100!!!!

(Photo: jazzbeat)

 (Photo: Musiciansallthatjazz.com)
 (Photo: Planetbarbarella.blogspot).
Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born on this day 100 years ago! In my youth, Fitzgerald was a staple on variety shows that populated the TV landscape at the time. I’d see her with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and regarded her as a presence.  She was known to the older generations of my family but was not entirely embraced by my generation, including me. I'd see her on Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas but I  only had a passing interest.
It wasn’t until my days at WRKC FM 88.5 Wilkes Barre during my Tuesday afternoon Jazz show days that I fully began to appreciate her as an entertainer. When I started working at WVIA FM I began to get an education in her importance as a jazz legend. Then when I worked in sales for Rock 107 and WEJL/WBAX AM (when the dual stations ran the American Popular Standards format) did I get a total experience of being an Ella fan.
She was the consummate American jazz singer often referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz and Lady Ella. She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.
After tumultuous teenage years, Fitzgerald found stability in musical success with the Chick Webb Orchestra, performing across the country, but most often associated with the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. Fitzgerald's rendition of the nursery rhyme "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" helped boost both her and Webb to national fame. Taking over the band after Webb died, Fitzgerald left it behind in 1942 to start a solo career that would last effectively the rest of her life.
She virtually built up the label Verve Records based in part on Fitzgerald's vocal abilities. With Verve she recorded some of her more widely noted works, particularly her interpretation of the Great American Songbook.
While Fitzgerald appeared in movies and as a guest on popular television shows in the second half of the twentieth century, her musical collaborations with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and The Ink Spots were some of her most notable acts outside of her solo career. These partnerships produced recognizable songs like "Dream a Little Dream of Me", "Cheek to Cheek", "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall", and "Time After Time".

In 1993, Fitzgerald capped off her sixty-year career with her last public performance. Three years later, she died at the age of 79, following years of decline in her health. After her passing, Fitzgerald's influence lived on through her fourteen Grammy Awards, National Medal of Arts, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and tributes in the form of stamps, music festivals, and theater namesakes.

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book was the only Songbook on which the composer she interpreted played with her. Duke Ellington and his longtime collaborator Billy Strayhorn both appeared on exactly half the set's 38 tracks and wrote two new pieces of music for the album: "The E and D Blues" and a four-movement musical portrait of Fitzgerald (the only Songbook track on which Fitzgerald does not sing). The Songbook series ended up becoming the singer's most critically acclaimed and commercially successful work, and probably her most significant offering to American culture. The New York Times wrote in 1996, "These albums were among the first pop records to devote such serious attention to individual songwriters, and they were instrumental in establishing the pop album as a vehicle for serious musical exploration."

Days after Fitzgerald's death, The New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote that in the Songbook series Fitzgerald "performed a cultural transaction as extraordinary as Elvis' contemporaneous integration of white and African American soul. Here was a black woman popularizing urban songs often written by immigrant Jews to a national audience of predominantly white Christians."
After Pete Kelly's Blues, she appeared in sporadic movie cameos, in St. Louis Blues (1958), and Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960). Much later, she appeared in the 1980s television drama The White Shadow.
She made numerous guest appearances on television shows, singing on The Frank Sinatra Show, The Andy Williams Show, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, and alongside other greats Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Mel Tormé, and many others. She was also frequently featured on The Ed Sullivan Show. Perhaps her most unusual and intriguing performance was of the "Three Little Maids" song from Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operetta The Mikado alongside Joan Sutherland and Dinah Shore on Shore's weekly variety series in 1963. A performance at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London was filmed and shown on the BBC. Fitzgerald also made a one-off appearance alongside Sarah Vaughan and Pearl Bailey on a 1979 television special honoring Bailey. In 1980, she performed a medley of standards in a duet with Karen Carpenter on the Carpenters' television program Music, Music, Music.
Fitzgerald also appeared in TV commercials, her most memorable being an ad for Memorex. In the commercials, she sang a note that shattered a glass while being recorded on a Memorex cassette tape. The tape was played back and the recording also broke the glass, asking: "Is it live, or is it Memorex?"

Very few singers changed the world of music in the 20th century. Fitzgerald did and it is fitting that she be remembered on the Centennial of her birth. (wikipedia, PBS, LuLac).
Here's a few of our favorites. Thank you Ella!!!!


At 6:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is Ella Fitzgerald?? She certainly couldn't have had the talent of Beyoncé or Rihanna.
The only old singer I know is Whitney Houston, she's kinda okay.
This lady looks like a teacher I had.

At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice column.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger David Yonki said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:44 AM, Blogger David Yonki said...

Who is Ella Fitzgerald?? She certainly couldn't have had the talent of Beyoncé or Rihanna.
The only old singer I know is Whitney Houston, she's kinda okay.
This lady looks like a teacher I had.


If this is sarcastic, nice satirical reference.
If it is not, then this is why this countrry and educational system is so wretched today. No historical or cultural frame of reference.
History happens on the day I became aware of events.....or the day I got elected President.


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