Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson
Ella and Oscar
When Ella Fitzgerald made this 1975 recording, she was at the height of her form and power. Backed by piano genius Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown on bass, she laid down nine tracks on this landmark album and all of them have become standards. The teasing “Mean to Me” deconstructs love, but doesn’t hint that it’s over, at least not yet. Gershwin’s “How Long Has This Been Going On?” slowly ambles down the path into romance with the wonderful realization that love has been lurking, afraid to show its cherub-bottomed face, but now the embers are sparking and the really good stuff is about to happen. A moodier jazz smoke infuses “When Your Lover Has Gone” and Fitzgerald’s voice sells it — you’re leaning in on the piano, your drink has melted, and you won’t even notice until someone has to polish the ring out of the finish.
Songs by Johnny Mercer, Frank Loesser, and Vernon Duke populate this collection, and the re-mastering process hasn’t dulled any of the original High Fidelity Long Playing vinyl richness. The original disc ended with the sunny “April in Paris,” but this CD adds four alternate takes to various tracks. The differences are subtle but apparent; the alternate “April in Paris” has a slightly more distant, skeptical vocal, as does “How Long Has This Been Going On?” Unlike many discs that are padded with demos and rougher mixes, these alternate takes are all clean and respectable, and give a small peek into producer Norman Granz’s taste for Fitzgerald’s remarkable voice. This Riverside release is part of a larger series of classic jazz re-issues, and whether you get it as a CD and groove to it on your Danish modern stereo with its pointy legs or you rip it to your pure white Apple product, this is the real deal — classic jazz from a classic voice.
Concord Music: www.concordmusicgroup.com