"Clap Hands" is a very special album in the Ella Fitzgerald discography. Recorded in the early 60s when her vocal skills were at their peak, it dispenses with the lush (and sometimes none-too-swinging) big band arrangements of her Songbook recordings and instead places the First Lady of Song in a jazz trio setting, led by the wonderful pianist Lou Levy. This album demonstrates, perhaps more clearly than any other, Ella's extraordinary ability to swing like crazy while still keeping a song completely coherent. The song choices are provocative, a mixture of standards and "jazz" songs which sum up Ella's skills nicely. She swings incomparably on "Night In Tunisia", but the album also showcases her wonderful ballad singing on "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most", "Good Morning Heartache", and others. It's a terrific set!
Yes, as everybody seems to agree, this IS Ella at her best, backed by a swinging trio and singing, singing, singing... What else? She was at her peak at the time this was recorded and it's just SWINGING without pretentious strings or large orchestrations, one of the jazziest albums by Ella I've bought so far (and I have bought quite a few, believe you me!).
Recommended for or Ella fans, but interesting to jazz audiences in general (IMHO).
This album (1961) is up there with The Intimate Ella (1960) as amongst the finest of her studio sets. The Intimate Ella has piano only accompaniment and really is superb - my one quibble is the playing time of 42 minutes, but it is, admittedly, difficult to add numbers to a piano only set.
With a much more satisfactory playing time (it has some added tracks) this album is also amongst her very best - pity about the title track though, when you think about what the Great American Songbook has to offer.
Amongst her live recordings I would recommend her 40th birthday Rome concert of 1958 (as well as the two Berlin concerts of 1960 & 1961)
If Billie Holiday is part one, then Ella is part two of the greatest American female jazz singers of all time.
A brilliant album. Not a masterpiece, but really to enjoy. From Clap your hands to Jersey Bounce, from Spring can really hang you up the most, to an excellent version of NIght in Tunisia. We get some really nice performances from Ella, very well played, and an overall sense of relax, fun and swinging entertainment. Plus 8 bonus tracks for a low price