The 14th installment in the Classics Ella Fitzgerald chronology examines a trail of Decca recordings made between February 13, 1953, and March 30, 1954. Aside from a pair of sentimental numbers sweetened by the Ray Charles Singers, Fitzgerald spent most of the year 1953 making records with Sy Oliver's orchestra. "Somebody Bad Stole de Wedding Bell" is yet another chapter in Fitzgerald's ongoing involvement with West Indian or calypso-styled repertoire; earlier Caribbean manifestations were "Stone Cold Dead in the Market" and "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean." Ella closed out the year by recording with a string-laden orchestra led by John Scott Trotter, then famous for his work with Bing Crosby. Her next three studio sessions occurred toward the end of March 1954. The first of these involved the dreaded Gordon Jenkins string orchestra and chorus. Although few singers could have withstood the avalanche of refined white sugar represented by Jenkins and his soporific ensemble, Fitzgerald stood her ground and sounded great. At the beginning of the following week she made her second collaborative series of recordings with pianist Ellis Larkins; their first studio duets had taken place in September of 1950 (see Classics 1195). These beautiful performances benefit from the sort of professional autonomy and artistic integrity that Ella Fitzgerald would soon enjoy after ditching Decca and signing on with Norman Granz.
by arwulf arwulf