Ella Fitzgerald

Newport Jazz Festival: Live at Carnegie Hall

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This two-CD set (a reissue of an earlier two-LP set plus six previously unreleased numbers) brings back a memorable Carnegie Hall concert that both features and pays tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. The great singer is joined on a few numbers by a Chick Webb reunion band that has a few of the original members (plus an uncredited Panama Francis on drums). Although the musicians do not get much solo space (why wasn't trumpeter Taft Jordan featured?), the music is pleasing. Fitzgerald performs three exquisite duets with pianist Ellis Larkins and then sits out while the Jazz at the Philharmonic All-Stars romp on a few jams and a ballad medley. Trumpeter Roy Eldridge's emotional flights take honors, although tenorman Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and trombonist Al Grey are also in good form. Fitzgerald comes out for the second half of the show and sings 14 numbers with guitarist Joe Pass (including a pair of tender duets) and the Tommy Flanagan trio. Although her renditions of "I've Gotta Be Me" and "What's Going On" are unnecessary, Fitzgerald sounds beautiful on "Good Morning Heartache," "Don't Worry About Me," and "These Foolish Things," and swings hard on the scat-filled "Lemon Drop." An excellent retrospective of Fitzgerald's first 40 years in jazz.

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