Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday

At Newport

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AllMusic Review by John Bush

Ella Fitzgerald & Billie Holiday at Newport presents the naturally intriguing results when Verve paired two sets recorded two days apart (over the 4th of July weekend, 1957) by the two best female singers of the 20th century. Unfortunately, circumstances weren't in their favor, as the combined factors of an unsympathetic band (for Fitzgerald) and shaky health (for Holiday) make these sets just a step below the expected level of greatness. It's unclear how much time Fitzgerald had spent with her trio, though she makes her unhappiness known while trying to jump-start them to a quicker tempo on "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" and "April in Paris." Finally, she gets the band in line, delivering crowd-pleasing renditions of "Lullaby of Birdland" and the terrific scat piece "Air Mail Special," which must have set the park on fire. Holiday, though she would live for two more years, sounds as though she's on death's doorstep, croaking her standards "Willow Weep for Me," "My Man," "Lady Sings the Blues," and "What a Little Moonlight Can Do." Of course, any Billie Holiday appearance is worth hearing, and she brings her world-weary voice to task on the showpiece "Lady Sings the Blues." Though it's far from a perfect set for both singers, At Newport says more about their respective careers than any great show could. [For a special 2000 reissue of Ella Fitzgerald & Billie Holiday at Newport, Verve added six songs from Carmen McRae's set at Newport. As with Fitzgerald and Holiday, McRae also had problems with her set -- the absence of her usual backing trio forced her to begin her performance with an unfamiliar band. Still, it's an excellent, powerful showcase for McRae's voice on highlights like "I'll Remember April" and "Love Is Here to Stay." Also, a 50th anniversary edition of the show appeared in 2007, with a very similar track listing (except it actually featured one less track).]

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 01:44 SpotifyAmazon
2 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 04:27 SpotifyAmazon
3 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 04:28 SpotifyAmazon
4 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 02:30 SpotifyAmazon
5 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 02:23 SpotifyAmazon
6 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 02:26 SpotifyAmazon
7 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 02:26 SpotifyAmazon
8 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 04:02 SpotifyAmazon
9 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 04:34 SpotifyAmazon
10 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 07:00 SpotifyAmazon
11 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 02:39 SpotifyAmazon
12 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 03:10 SpotifyAmazon
13 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 03:32 SpotifyAmazon
14 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 02:07 SpotifyAmazon
15 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 03:02 SpotifyAmazon
16 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday 03:20 SpotifyAmazon
17 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday feat: Carmen McRae 02:44 SpotifyAmazon
18 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday feat: Carmen McRae 03:52 SpotifyAmazon
19 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday feat: Carmen McRae 02:13
20
Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday feat: Carmen McRae 01:03
21 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday feat: Carmen McRae 04:12 SpotifyAmazon
22 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday feat: Carmen McRae 03:14 SpotifyAmazon
23 Ella Fitzgerald / Billie Holiday feat: Carmen McRae 02:47 SpotifyAmazon
blue highlight denotes track pick