This segment of the Classics Ella Fitzgerald chronology focuses upon the recordings she made for the Decca label between March 1947 and November 1948. Most of these sides include polished group background vocals, generating a certain campy slickness that some listeners might find overly affected. This kind of ensemble singing rose to prominence with Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller and manifested itself throughout the late '40s and early '50s, even popping up in the form of the Dave Lambert Singers behind Charlie Parker. Bop scatting at times like a Roman candle, Ella sounds fully in command, a seasoned improviser well on the way to stylistic maturity. Nothing interferes with her honeyed, seamless delivery, not even the Andy Love Quintet, the Song Spinners, or the Day Dreamers. The collective instrumental personnel includes bassists Bob Haggart and Ray Brown, trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, saxophonists Illinois Jacquet and Ernie Caceres, organist Sir Charles Thompson, pianist Hank Jones, and drummer J.C. Heard. Ella imitates a Slam Stewart bass solo on "Oh, Lady Be Good" and tears up "How High the Moon" in a manner that would serve her well for the rest of her illustrious career. A fascinating chunk of history is here to be savored. Just don't be surprised if a mixed choir begins hooting and harmonizing behind Ella Fitzgerald.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf