Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ella Fitzgerald - Mack the Knife: The Complete Ella In Berlin


I've spoken many times about my love for jazz divas.  And it all began here, really.  I mean, my father often told me it began with Edith Piaf, whose songs I apparently had memorised when I was three, but I don't think I really knew what it was all about until we had an album of Ella singing Gershwin tunes.

From then on, I've always had some Ella in my collection.  I can sing along with most of the songs - I prefer the fast numbers 'cause I love it when she's scat-singing - but I bought this particular album after much searching because it has a version of Lorelai on it.  It's a song about the legendary siren who tempted sailors to their deaths on a rock in the Rhine.  (I loved this song so much, I made my parents take a detour through Germany so I could see the rock the legend's based on.)  Anyway, it probably also sparked my love for clever lyrics -  She had a most immoral eye/ They called her Lorelai.

And for the record, it has nothing to do with my love for the Gilmore Girls.



There's no doubting the voice, absolutely none.  Ella's seemingly effortless precision and wonderful tone have made her a household name.  I remember hearing her voice from a very young age as both my parents were fans.  Recorded live in Berlin, this album is one of the 'go-to' albums for Ella fans.

The problem for me is this is jazz, a style I've never really had much time for.  I've been made to feel like a bit of a heathen when I say this, particularly around a few discerning musicians I know.  But fuck it, I know what I like and this kind of sounds like the soundtrack to a bunch of slow 50s movies I saw bits and pieces of when I was a kid.

Having said this, her interpretations of Summertime, Mack The Knife and particularly How High The Moon, with her incredible scat, are absolute gold and worth the price of the whole album.


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