Ella Fitzgerald

Mack the Knife: Ella in Berlin

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Ella Fitzgerald was at the peak of her form during her 1960 tour of Europe. Her Berlin concert is most remembered for her hilariously inventive version of "Mack the Knife," during which she forgot the words and substituted ones of her own that somehow fit, amazing herself in the process. With fine support from her quartet -- pianist Paul Smith, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Wilfred Middlebrooks, drummer Gus Johnson -- Fitzgerald is brilliant throughout the well-rounded set, with highlights including "Misty" (a version very different from Sarah Vaughan's), "The Lady Is a Tramp," "Too Darn Hot," and a scat-filled "How High the Moon." This is essential music.

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