Ella Fitzgerald

Complete 1940 NBC Broadcasts

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AllMusic Review by

With the death of Chick Webb in 1939, his big band was temporarily without a leader. Since Ella Fitzgerald had become the orchestra's most popular attraction, she was put at its head even though she had very little to do with the music. The Webb management, musical director Teddy McRae and trumpeter Taft Jordan actually ran the show, but Fitzgerald was still virtually the only female singer (other than Ina Ray Hutton) to be the leader of her own big band during the era. The experiment would last for two years, until Fitzgerald started her own remarkably successful solo career in 1941. While most of the band's recordings after Webb's death featured Fitzgerald's vocals, the four radio broadcasts that comprise this two-CD set have the orchestra taking instrumentals on over one-third of the material. Ella Fitzgerald was not yet the mature singer that she would become, nor is she heard scatting, a skill she would master five years later. However, her voice is cheerful and pleasing, the band swings and the Edgar Sampson arrangements are a major asset. A few of her novelty features are throwaways but overall this two-fer, which has the only existing live performances of the Ella Fitzgerald Orchestra (and is more complete than previous reissues), is a worthwhile acquisition.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
0:32
2
2:40
3
3:37
4
2:52
5 2:55
6 4:03
7
3:18
8
3:59
9
3:10
10
2:41
11
0:36
12
3:35
13 3:14
14
4:09
15
2:35
16
3:43
17
4:16
18
2:23
19
4:24
20
0:47

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
0:35
2 3:19
3
2:56
4
feat: Taft Jordan
3:15
5 3:14
6 2:34
7 4:02
8 2:45
9
5:38
10
2:08
11
0:29
12
3:42
13
4:25
14
3:29
15 3:11
16
3:52
17 3:20
18
2:55
19
3:46
20
1:11
blue highlight denotes track pick