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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TWO REVIEWS, DON'T BE CONFUSED, 7 April 2014
By 
Barry McCanna (Normandy, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Three Classic Albums Plus (Mack The Knife / Let No Man Write My Epitaph / Ella In Hollywood) (Audio CD)
NOTE: This review relates to two Avid albums, AMSC 11i8 and AMSC 1118. Under Amazon's crazy product group policy, I cannot post separate reviews because the earlier one has been cross-posted.

AVID AMSC 1118: These four albums date from the early sixties, and were issued originally on Verve. Both "Ella in Berlin" and "Ella in Hollywood" were recorded with a live audience, in February 1960 and May 1961 respectively. "Let No Man Write My Epitaph" was recorded in April 1960, and "Ella Swings Gently with Nelson" was recorded in April and November 1961. Three tracks have been omitted from the last-named album, namely "It's a Pity to Say Goodnight", "My One and Only Love" and "Body and Soul". (NOTE: They can be found, together with "Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson") on Avid's subsequent compilation AMSC1122).

There are two Ellas on offer here; the Ella of the concert hall, who peppered her appearances with breakneck delivery and extreme scat singing, and the refined Ella of the recording studio, whose sublime art reached its apogee with the Songbook series.

"Ella in Berlin" is remembered mainly for her alleged memory loss on Mack the Knife, and includes her 8-minute bop-influenced scat on How High the Moon, which also went down well at the time, but may pall on repeated listening. Ella's pipes sound just a trifle hoarse, and the balance between her and the Paul Smith Quartet (particularly the bass) is not perfect, but the atmosphere overcomes those minor deficiencies. The highlights for me are Misty and the three Gershwin numbers. Lou Levy and Herb Ellis replaced pianist Paul Smith and guitarist Jim Hall respectively for the Hollywood concert, and the smaller venue of the 200 capacity Crescendo is reflected in the acoustic. It's another mixed bag of ballads and belters, including a 9-minute scat on "Take the `A' Train" and 5 minutes plus on "Air Mail Special", my preference again being for the ballads.

"Let No Man Write My Epitaph" was the title of a 1960 Columbia film in which Ella played a singing bar pianist, but of the thirteen songs on the album only three were featured in the film, including "Reach for Tomorrow", although a further three were shot, namely "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You", "Misty" and "Who's Sorry Now?". Those six songs, plus a further seven, were recorded again with piano accompaniment by Paul Smith, and resulted in an obscure album which now is much sought after. Ella recorded a pair of "Swings" albums with Nelson Riddle, one Brightly, the other Gently, and the latter fully lives up to its title. Benny Green's sleeve note is a model of clarity, which should deepen the listener's appreciation of Ella's interpretations.

AMSC 1122: "Like Someone in Love" and "Hello Love" were both recorded in 1957, accompanied by the orchestra of Frank deVol. Most of the songs are standards, which Ella sings in a relaxed and carefree fashion. The 1961 album "Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson" and the three missing tracks from the "Gently" album featured on AMSC 1118 feature her with a big band accompaniment, and her vocals are correspondingly more extrovert. Five tracks from "Ella Fitzgerald at the (Chicago) Opera House" are also included; this was a live 1957 recording from the eighteenth JATP tour accompanied by the Oscar Peterson Quartet. Overall, it's a delightful compilation, and of the two this would be my preference, and I would rate it as five stars, but cannot do so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PERFECT ELLA ALBUM THREESOME PLUS A FEW EXTRA FILLERS, 25 April 2014
By 
A. POLLOCK (PLYMOUTH, DEVON United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
From her early vocal beginnings, the career of Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) can best be defined in three phases - her embryonic period as band singer and occasional band leader with the Chick Webb Orchestra; her pop-solo Decca years and finally the Verve (later Pablo) burst-of- glory years that deservedly imprinted her reputation as the most respected jazz diva others aspired to.

As a logical follow-up to the other recent Ella set on Avid AMSC1118, this release continues its exploration of the singer’s Verve albums and up-front helpfully includes the three songs - IT’S A PITY TO SAY GOODNIGHT, MY ONE AND ONLY LOVE and BODY AND SOUL from ELLA SWINGS GENTLY WITH NELSON (1961) that were omitted from the previous set due to timing constraints.

Of the three complete albums, LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE was released in 1957, with its romantic theme enhanced by Frank DeVol’s wonderful arrangements augmented by the inclusion of saxophonist Stan Getz who is featured on tenor sax on four tracks including MIDNIGHT SUN and YOU’RE BLASÉ. The iconic Ted Nash also features on alto sax and solos and with MORE THAN YOU KNOW, CLOSE YOUR EYES and WE’LL BE TOGETHER AGAIN amongst the fifteen songs; many with the rare verses; this album highlights Ella in perfect romantic mood.

Similarly honed towards ballad appreciation, HELLO LOVE, released in 1960, but recorded over two sessions in 1957 and 1959 with Frank DeVol again providing superb orchestral support, is an album that puts the focus on standards not included in her epic Songbooks. WILLOW WEEP FOR ME, SPRING WILL BE A LITTLE LATE THIS YEAR, EVERYTHING HAPPENS TO ME and I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME give this album a bitter-sweet reflection, with even the more recent MY FAIR LADY ballad I’VE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO HIS FACE retaining the mood.

Moving on to another Ella collaboration with Nelson Riddle, ELLA SWINGS BRIGHTLY WITH NELSON, deservedly won the 1962 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Lightly swinging versions of WHEN YOUR LOVER HAS GONE, I WON’T DANCE, I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU and THE GENTLEMAN IS A DOPE fulfil the album’s title with both Ella and Nelson in perfect accord.

Avid’s welcome habit of filling each CD to the ultimate brim, allows just enough space for selections from Ella’s live appearance in Chicago as part of Norman Granz’s JAZZ AT THE PHILHARMONIC Concerts, released as AT THE OPERA HOUSE in 1958. More jazzy than the foregoing, the five tracks include BEWITCHED BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED, IT’S ALL RIGHT WITH ME and THESE FOOLISH THINGS so the material remains on a similar par to the three complete albums on this set.

Avid’s attention for detail includes reproduced album covers plus original sleeve notes and the claim the digital remastering gives the finest ever sound quality. I certainly would not argue with that fact.
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4.0 out of 5 stars ELLA FITZGERALD : "THREE CLASSIC ALBUMS PLUS", 22 May 2014
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This review is from: Three Classic Albums Plus (Mack The Knife / Let No Man Write My Epitaph / Ella In Hollywood) (Audio CD)
A good and varied selection of early Sixties Ella. Personally, I prefer the small group sessions to the album with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, but that is my personal outlook. One thing still irritates me after all these years. Why can't she remember all the words to "Mack The Knife ?" (Or was it some kind of gimmick, as I have seen her do this on old film footage as well ?) An enjoyable 2 disc set and a real bargain at the price.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not just a Skeeter fan, 22 July 2014
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This review is from: Three Classic Albums Plus (Mack The Knife / Let No Man Write My Epitaph / Ella In Hollywood) (Audio CD)
Excellent album and a great addition to the various compilation albums I have.
Quality singing and Ella has a great sense of humour. It's great to have proper albums.
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