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Mack the Knife: The Complete Ella in Berlin Live

4.9 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Live, August 17, 1993
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

It entered into jazz lore when, at this 1960 Berlin concert, Ella forgot the words to Mack the Knife ; she improvised her way out of it in an inventive way that amazed even herself!

Amazon.com

A 43-year-old Ella rolls through her typical routine in feisty fashion on this 1960 recording, which documents the opening show of her European tour. There's the Satchmo impersonation (a joyous "Mack the Knife"), the lengthy scat showcase ("How High the Moon," on which she quotes Charlie Parker's "Ornithology"), and a bevy of Gershwin and Porter tunes. Supported by pianist Paul Smith's quartet (with the elegant Jim Hall on guitar), Ella's voice sounds earthier than usual and her phrasing is as appealing as ever. She's sublimely tender on "Misty" and wonderfully sultry on "Too Darn Hot." The CD reissue includes two unreleased tracks from the Berlin concert plus two 1956 gems (including a stylish "Love for Sale") that were mistakenly pressed on this release. Upon its initial release, the album picked up two Grammies and peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Pop chart; its acclaim was well deserved. --Marc Greilsamer

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Setting Up The Stage: Tuning Up...
  2. That Old Black Magic
  3. Our Love Is Here To Stay
  4. Gone With The Wind
  5. Misty
  6. Applause And Fanfare Interlude
  7. The Lady Is A Tramp
  8. Fanfare And Announcement
  9. The Man I Love
  10. Love For Sale
  11. Just One Of Those Things
  12. Summertime
  13. Too Darn Hot
  14. Applause And Fanfare Interlude
  15. Lorelei
  16. Mack The Knife
  17. Fanfare And Announcements
  18. How High The Moon?
  19. Applause And Closing Fanfare


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 17, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B0000046QI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,097 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I was in 10th grade, and read a review of this in ..., which I was not supposed to be reading at all. I bought it because I wanted to be like Hugh Hefner and like jazz and be cool, instead of what I was, a nerdy shy kid who had not bloomed and whose family was more "upper poor" than "lower middle class." It was 1960. When I listened to Ella, singing in Berlin, the focal point of the Cold War, standards like "How High the Moon" and "Mack the Knife" and "Too Darn Hot" I just transcended my immediate environment and for 40 minutes I was worthy of that ...Magazine. Imagine this orphan black woman, holding the concert stage in Germany only 15 years after the Nazi disaster, and having her audience eating out of her hand. Remarkable event, memorably preserved. Read all the reviews, then decide if this is worth adding to your CD shelf. I know MY decision!
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Format: Audio CD
Yes, you heard it right. I know I will get hate mail for saying this, but I will go out on a limb to say Ella has produced BETTER live recordings captured on CD elsewhere. This is no reflection that her Berlin concert was bad. Perhaps Ella has been a victim of her own brilliance for always achieving near perfection in her live performances.
Listening to this CD, the obvious highlight is the oft talked about title track, "Mack the Knife", where Ella forgot the lyrics a minute into the song and made up the rest of the words without skipping a beat and perfectly improvising to the song's melody a la Fitzgerald. It's a miraculous feat that has entered the jazz hall of fame and folklore as one of the greatest moments not only in jazz, but in music history. "Mack the Knife" solidified Fitzgerald's standing in the music biz for the rest of her life, helping her escape the shadow of overwhelming sentiment and praise for Billie Holiday after Lady's premature death from a lifetime of drug and emotional abuse. The other great track here is the 8-minute track "How High the Moon" that Ella scats with a frenetic, pulsating charm that leaves you breathless at the finish line.
But aside from these two standout tracks, the rest of the CD isn't all that memorable. The marvels of modern CD technology has unmasked a detected fatigue in Ella's voice that she somehow cannot hide. Maybe it was the killer tour schedule (mentioned in liner notes) that did her in, but it's definitely noticeable. If you're mostly curious about the two great tracks, "Mack the Knife" and "How High the Moon", I would recommend purchasing those tracks elsewhere on many of Ella's compilations (Compact Jazz on Verve being one).
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Format: Audio CD
if I could give this 50 stars, I would.

Ella's voice is truly nonpareil, and while I wasn't immediately in love with every song on the album, the legendary Mack the Knife, Too Darn Hot, The Lady is a Tramp, and How High the Moon kept me playing it again and again.

Many years later, I love every single song and this is still my favorite of my Ella cds (and I have a lot of them!), the one I play the most. It puts me in a good mood every time.

Her crystalline voice is always spectacular, but in a live setting, as pointed out by others, her creativity and scatting ascend to stellar heights. And there's an added quality of warmth in her voice not captured on studio recordings.

When I was in high school (30 years ago?), I had the chance to meet Ms. Fitzgerald. She was truly a gracious woman, and, as another reviewer pointed out, so truly humble in the face of her awesome talent. When I told her I listened to Mack the Knife every night before I went to bed, she said, "Don't do that, honey, it'll give you nightmares," and said she was also happy to hear when young people enjoyed her music.

I am listening to How High the Moon right now. Amazing.

If you haven't heard this cd, you are not just missing out on a legendary album and piece of music history, but a wonderful and joyous listening experience.
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I love Ella Fitzgerald, and I rarely do I go a day without listening to an Ella CD since I've been introduced to her outstanding talent. I went out on a whim and bought this album, expecting great Ella as usual. But how wrong I was! I have never been so crazy about an album as I am about this one. Every song is out of this world and the accompaniment is just as wonderful. Standouts include "That Old Black Magic", "Too Darn Hot", and my personal favorite "How High the Moon?" Whoever said Ella lacks feeling in her delivery needs to listen to this album, and recognize that melodrama does not always equal feeling. Ella epitomizes sunniness and spontaneity in this live album that I wouldn't give anything less than five stars. If you love Ella, do yourself a favor and buy this album -- thinks ranks as one of her top recordings.
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No matter what mood I'm in, listening to Ella is sure to improve it! Many of these songs can be found on her "Songbook" recordings but it's great to hear them live! These include, The Man I Love, Summertime, The Lady Is A Tramp, Our Love Is Here To Stay and more. She switches back and forth between up tempo songs to ballads with her usual ease.....ending this album with Mack The Knife and How High The Mood, which the audience requested was a brilliant idea! I can't think of many artists that I would actually enjoy listening to improvising forgotten lyrics than listening to Ella do it. It's so much fun to listen to this!
Love this CD!
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