In this most unusual recording, Ella Fitzgerald could be mistaken for a cabaret singer, not a world-renowned jazz superstar. Here, accompanied only by Paul Smith on piano, she sings melancholy ballads, and it is easy to picture her standing by a piano in a smoky cabaret, late at night, quietly musing about the man who got away--and making you feel her sadness. Recorded in 1960, the same year that Ella recorded her famous jazz concert in Berlin, this recording remained essentially "lost" in a vault after its original release, until it was rediscovered and re-released in 1989. It may be Ella's "prettiest" album--not her typical fare, but absolutely gorgeous, nevertheless.
"Black Coffee," a song which many people believe "belongs" to Peggy Lee, is more tuneful in Ella's hands, sung with a sexy world-weariness that never descends into gloom. "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby," so often sung in a quick tempo, is slowed way down here, in the thoughtful mood of someone who has nothing to give to the relationship, except love. "Then You've Never Been Blue" and "Reach for Tomorrow," both new songs to me, show the transition from the sadness of a lost love and the age-old hope for tomorrow.
"Who's Sorry Now," forever associated with Connie Francis, could not be more different when sung by Ella--much slower and sung almost in a whisper, as she muses about turnabout and fair play in a relationship, and when she sings "I'm glad that you're sorry now," it's clear that she's not glad at all. Even standards like "Misty," "September Song," and "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," take on new meanings here. A terrific CD in which Ella Fitzgerald proves that she can do absolutely anything with a song. Mary Whipple