I love Ella Fitzgerald. Her voice, her personality, her mad-scatting-skillz at the mic. No “AutoTune” needed. The “First Lady of Song” and the “Queen of Jazz” – her sweet tones have enamored many an ear over her ca: 60-year recording career. Among those recordings exist several truly outstanding ones, and among those outstanding ones exist a few very intimate and personal ones. In the case of “Nice Work If You Can Get It” – we’re quite intimate and personal, as she is accompanied only by Andre Previn at the piano and Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen on the bass.
If I’m counting correctly, there are 23 Pablos featuring Ella Fitzgerald so this will not be the last of you hear from me about Ella on Pablo. Among those you will also count six Grammy Awards for “Best Jazz Vocal” or “Best Jazz Vocal: Female” – however, the present record is not among them. I won’t opine as to whether or not I think it should have garnered one as I’m not privy to who the competition was at the time, and she had taken the award the year before for another Pablo release: The Best Is Yet To Come. But I’ll share this: if you’re at all an Ella Fan, you could do worse than to hunt down and catch every Pablo she ever recorded – especially the studio sessions (some of the Pablo Live recordings don’t necessarily do her voice justice). Neither is this Ella’s first treatment of Gershwin material, as she had already made what many believe to be the definitive treatment with “Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Songbook” – a 5 LP Juggernaut from Norman Granz’s prior label, Verve – another utterly essential acquisition if you are, at all, enamored of her mellifluous vox.
What I love about this record is the small setting, the intimacy, and especially the communication between the musicians. You really get the sense that they are connected as they glide effortlessly through the tunes. There’s a special conversation going on between Previn and Ella, and each time I listen to this record it becomes increasingly apparent how beautiful this interleaving musical vocabulary developed between them in these sessions. The relaxed, intimate performance gives you the sense that you’re being treated to a private performance right here in your home, The Queen of Jazz presiding.
Nice Record If You Can Get It!
(but it’s a Pablo, so chances are you’ll find a super clean copy for $5 somewhere)