Ella Fitzgerald was still very much at the top of her game in 1969, when this appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival was videotaped. Accompanied by the always swinging pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Frank DeLaRosa, and drummer Ed Thigpen, Fitzgerald works her magic with a number of favorites from her vast repertoire to the delight of her attentive audience, including "Give Me the Simple Life," "That Old Black Magic," and "I Won't Dance." But the singer was never one to stand pat with her song selection, so she was always looking at new material. While some of it merits inclusion, like Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Useless Landscape," there are several obvious duds, including Burt Bacharach's leaden ballad "This Girl's in Love with You," plus two forgettable rock songs, Cream's monotonous "Sunshine of Your Love" and the Beatles' equally annoying "Hey Jude." Fortunately, the jazz selections overshadow these performances, particularly the rendition of Duke Ellington's "Love You Madly," which Flanagan slyly introduces by playing Dave Brubeck's "The Duke" (itself a tribute to Ellington, though Ella takes the song into hip territory with a rock rhythm). She also swings Joe Williams' trademark song, "Alright, Okay, You Win." Her uptempo "Scat Medley" is a marvelous alchemy of bossa nova and swing, starting with "One Note Samba" and adding riffs from various standards and jazz compositions, ending with a wild unaccompanied coda. Videotaped in black-and-white with good editing and excellent sound, this DVD will be of interest to Ella Fitzgerald fans.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden