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67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2001
It's difficult to choose between this collection of Ella Fitzgerald's work and the collection Ken Burns issued along with Jazz. While there's some overlap between the two, the Burns' CD covers a wider sweep of her career - from her mid-thirties version of A-Tisket A-Tasket (the version here was recorded live in 1961) to the late sixties. Everything on here was recorded sometime between the late fifties and early sixties - prime Ella Fitzgerald, but it's a shame to miss out on the early stuff.
Still, if I really HAD to limit myself to only one Ella Fitzgerald CD, it would have to be this one. Burns doesn't include her duets with Louis Armstrong on "They Can't Take That Away From Me," and "Summertime," and there isn't any music ever made that is more breathtaking than Fitzgerald and Armstrong together. Their honey and sandpaper voices play off each other in a way that defies description. And I'd nominate their version of "Summertime" as the best single recording ever made. I can't hear it too many times. If you don't own a copy of it, there's a big hole in your record collection - no, make that a big hole in your LIFE -that you must repair immediately.
Also, while the Burns' CD shows off Ella's gorgeous voice and glorious scatting (Ella's scatting is a cure for anything that ails you), I think he shortchanges her ballad work. "Misty" and "My Funny Valentine" ought to be on any intro to Ella Fitzgerald.
The thing to remember about any introduction to Ella Fitzgerald, though, is that it's just an appetizer - something to hold you until you save up enough money for the complete works. Until you do, this is a really fine collection.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2001
I discovered Ella in a very round about way. From a TV commercial. I can't even remember which one it was now, but one of her recordings was featured. I was instantly amazed by her voice and HAD to find out who the singer was. As soon as I did I ran out to get a collection of her work. Luckily for me I came across this CD. The woman is incredible! Pure perfection! I'm amazed every time I listen to this collection, which is quite often. A smile spreads across my face that just won't go away until the last note fades away. Even then, songs like Mister Paganini, A Tisket, A Tasket, Mack the Knife, How High The Moon, and Take the "A" Train stay locked my mind for eternity. What a God send she is. I'm so glad to have found this sanctuary that is Ella Fitzgerald.
If you're not familiar with her work, pick this up immediately. Are there more complete collections than this one? Sure. But this is a great introduction to her amazing, prolific career and even includes collaborations with Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. How could you go wrong with a line up like that? Don't miss out on this collection!
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2004
Ella is an extraordinary and refreshing exception to most Jazz vocalists. Many Jazz singers have a very bad technique, producing their sound from their throats in an unhealthy manner. Ella, however, has the technique and stamina of a classical singer. This why her career peaked in her 40's and was able to sing until very late in her life.
Her singing is pure joy. She never strains or manipulates her vocal chords to produce that gorgeous, rich voice that just melts your heart out. The ease and beauty with which she sings, frankly, makes me question her humanity.
If you want the best of Ella Fitzgerald, THIS CD is it. It is the premiere comprehensive single-CD sampling of her career. The recording features some of her best collaborations with arrangers (Nelson Riddle, Billy May, etc.) and performers (Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie.)
The musical selections are excellent. The Verve label has chosen a balance of 9 high-energy swing numbers and 9 romantic ballads.
Some remarkable swingers are MACK THE KNIFE, a live recording in Berlin (1960) where she blanks out on a verse and has to improvise. I'm smiling thinking about it. Another is HOW HIGH THE MOON, in which she scats incredibly for about 6 minutes. Throughout the rendition she adds (and revises) brief tidbits of random American standard songs, like SMOKE GETS IN YOU EYES: "They ask me how I knew my true love was true/ I have course replied, 'Something here inside...SWEAT gets in my eyes!" Ella enjoys entertaining while she sings, and her infectious interpretations pull the listener in; especially on the 5 live recordings on this CD, where one finds himself laughing along with the audience at times.

Stunning ballads include MISTY (with her musically sensitive accompanist Paul Smith). Wow! Her lyricism, intonations, and diction are impeccable. Here she sings in a hushed soft fashion that is like she's whispering in your ear. SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW features its great, not often-heard verse, and such sincere, expressive singing.
Buy this now. Ella will really impress you!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2000
Ella's recording library is immense and one CD cannot begin to paint a picture of this lady's talent. But this album will give you a very good taste of Ella. The album begins with "Mack The Knife", not one of my favorite songs. But Ella gives a great performance, enhanced greatly, by forgetting the words and ad-libbing. She sings that she can't remember the words to the second verse and just starts making up something and it results in a very good time for the listener. A great way to start off this album, it's fun and enjoyable. That was, indeed, pure Ella.
"Blue Skies", "They Can't Take That Away From Me", "The Boy From Ipanema", and "Over the Rainbow" will take your breath away. Ella's smooth, singing always melts me. And if it's scat you want, "You'll Have To Swing It (Mr. Paganini)", "Take The A-Train", and the classic "Lady Be Good" will leave you wanting more.
This is a great collection and I prefer the collections that mix up the variety of her recordings rather than showcase only one style.
It's a must if you want a taste of pure Ella.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 1999
This is the best Ella CD available. If you must have only one (or are buying your first) buy this one.
The creators of this CD spent a lot of time putting this recent collection together. The superb selections were thoughfully chosen, and the modern engineering is wonderful. Every song is a masterpiece. It is truly an astonishing CD.
From her astonishing live performanced, to her mind-boggling scatting, to her rich, sultry love ballads, to her legendary duets with Louis Armstrong, to her just wonderful interpretations of so many great jazz songs with such a wide variety of great orchestras and wide variety of vocal tones... this woman is unbelievable on this CD.
In one CD, you'll know why she is the First Lady of song. Amazing!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2000
I think Ella sang it best, "I bet these people wonder what I'm singing. Believe it or not, it's still 'How High the Moon.'" This delightful bit of improvisation comes after a long scat session on the 7-minute+ version of the song. I'm sure other Ella Fitzgerald albums are great, but you are cheating yourself if you buy one with a shortened version of "How High the Moon." And that's just one of the many high points of this CD.
My grandparents would look at me, astonished, and say, "We used to listen to this!" But, it's not that surprising if you think about it. Ella's music is timeless. It never goes out of style. It never becomes boring. It never is anything less than awe-inspiring.
This is probably the best collection of Ella Fitzgerald songs outside of massive (and massively expensive) boxed sets. From start to finish, it is classic and "classic Ella." From her signature tune, "A-Tisket A-Tasket," to her duet with Louis Armstrong of "They Can't Take That Away from Me," from "Mack the Knife" to "Lady Be Good," this is a fabulous CD that is pure, classic Ella.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2002
I stumbled upon this collection by accident and was totally blown away. I don't think a better ever singer ever lived than Ella, and these songs are one amazing performance after another. A lot of fun!
She opens with the swinging "Mack The Knife" and moves on to one amazing performance after another. Her version of "Misty" is unbelievable. You have to hear it.
Listen to her completely destroy any other contenders to "best singer of all time" with astonishing scatting on "How High The Moon." It's almost unreal, but actually recorded live in Berlin.
You have to hear this CD!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2003
This is a great collection which features some of Ella's great moments.If you want scat, you've got Ella scatting* like no woman in jazz.If you want something slow, she has soft jazz lullabys to melt your heart.I have other Ella collections, but I reccomend you get all of them, because this one doesn't feature some of her greatest songs, such as "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing",Let's Call the Whole Thing Off(with Louis Armstrong),Mr. Paganini(parts 1 &2), and Too Darn Hot.I urge you to look for these aformentioned songs, as they are absolutely amazing.But the songs here are fab as well.Some of my favorites are Blue Skies, OvER tHE Rainbow,My Funny Valentine, and Summertime, but those are just my personal faves, there iks honestly not weak track, even though some are better than others.This woman is the best thing to ever happen to jazz.There is only one Ella, ands this lady is for everyone.People of all ages, of all musical tastes can enjoy Ella, and fall in love with her.Her voice was truly one of a kind, and she sang with the sweetest emotion.She could melt my heart, or get me moving.She glided effortlessly though each and every one of her songs.She gave the world her talent, and her always top quality music.This music is magical.It brightens my spirit on days when all I could do is cry.Everyone needs to own at least a little bit of Ella.Not in a million years will her talent ever be duplicated.She was truly one of the best vocalists to ever grace this earth.What a great lady.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2003
This is my first Cd of Ella Fitzgerald; and it has really exceeded my expectations. It has a lot of popular songs, sung by other artists. Some of the songs, especially Mack the Knife, I didnt think I would enjoy since I have heard them so many times by other artists; but Ella's take on it is hillarious and entertaining. I read up on it after I heard it, and it is her performance live in berlin in the 60's and she forgot the words to half of the song but still managed to make it work with her own words. - She also does a dead on impression of louie armstrong in it. I love it. I also like her How High the Moon. And A Tisket A Tasket is great too ('high-ho silver!'). Even though most of the songs are live (or at least sound like it - I have read that sometimes artists would reproduce in studios their live performances), the sound quality is still excellent. This cd always puts a smile on my face.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2000
Reviewing Ella Fitzgerald albums is like rating Michelangelo's paintings -- the art is flawless, so you have to consider the packaging. In this case, Pure Ella is pure fun, a great package of famous performances of milestone songs. The live outtakes -- 'Blue Skies' especially -- are treasurable. 'My Funny Valentine' is stunning; 'Night and Day' is fully as moving as the Sinatra/Reprise version and the scat-style 'Oh Lady be Good' is more satisfying than the ballad version on the Songbook collection. Every song here leaves you incredulous that ANYONE could sing so many tempos so well with so much range -- really one of the high watermarks of popular music.
Even if you have a stack of Ella albums, this one is worth buying.
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