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20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Ella Fitzgerald

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Album Review

This budget-priced 12-song compilation provides the listener a quick introduction to the work of Ella Fitzgerald. The collection focuses mainly on her work in the 1950s for Verve but also includes her 1938 hit for Decca, "A-Tisket A-Tasket," the 1939 song "Undecided," her 1949 recording of "I'm Just a Lucky So-and-So," and two tracks from the early '60s: "A Fine Romance" from 1963's The Jerome Kern Song Book and "Blues in the Night" from 1961's Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book. The songs from the 1950s are thought by many to be Ella's best work, and her duets with Louis Armstrong are considered right near the top. The two jazz giants recorded "Dream a Little Dream of Me" in 1950. Other highlights from the 1950s are her reworking of an earlier hit, "You'll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini), Pts. 1 & 2" from 1952 with Sy Oliver's big band, her sweet take on "But Not for Me" from 1950's Ella Sings Gershwin, and the beautiful "Just A-Sittin' and A-Rockin'" from 1957's triumphant Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book. The disc is nowhere near comprehensive but gives a good idea why Ella is so revered and would make a decent first purchase for the Ella neophyte with a limited budget.


Born: April 25, 1917 in Newport News, VA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

"The First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald was arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time (although some may vote for Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday). Blessed with a beautiful voice and a wide range, Fitzgerald could outswing anyone, was a brilliant scat singer, and had near-perfect elocution; one could always understand the words she sang. The one fault was that, since she always sounded so happy to be singing, Fitzgerald did not always dig below the surface of the lyrics she interpreted...
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