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Sophisticated Lady

Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass

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Album Review

Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass made a number of studio recordings as a duo between 1973 and 1986 for Pablo, but this is their first concert CD to appear on the label. Composed of excerpts from a 1975 date in Hamburg and a 1983 appearance in Tokyo, it provides an interesting contrast as Fitzgerald's abilities declined during the eight-year gap due to health problems. The later material is featured first, and Pass' thoughtful support props her up during the occasional rough spots. Following a series of Ellington tunes, it becomes obvious that her ability as a scat singer clearly had not diminished, as proven during an increasingly complex version of "One Note Samba." They close with a delightfully swinging take of "Bluesette." Pass begins the Hamburg set with a trio of unaccompanied solos, including a lush "Old Folks," an intricate exploration of the bossa nova "Wave," and finally, a sensational run through "Cherokee" that can only be adequately described as breathtaking. Fitzgerald returns to join the guitarist for a trio of Ellington songs, starting off with the lesser known ballad "Take Love Easy" (which was also the title track of their then-current first duo LP), along with a surprisingly brief "Mood Indigo" and an inspired, often humorous "Satin Doll." This rewarding CD makes one wonder if there are more unreleased recording by Fitzgerald and Pass hidden in Fantasy's vaults awaiting discovery. [Sophisticated Lady was also released with a bonus track.]


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...
Full Bio

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