Ella Fitzgerald

Ella: The First Lady of Song

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There is an argument in the world of jazz criticism for the re-classification of Ella Fitzgerald. Though Fitzgerald is regarded as a blues singer, her vocals lack true blues phrasing. Furthermore, Fitzgerald's upbeat, sunny performer-persona and extremely broad repertoire make her less a jazz singer than a pop singer. Whereas this line of thinking is clearly in the minority, it's evident that Fitzgerald's vocal "impurities" are at least useful in defining a singular niche for her among jazz vocalists.

As a compilation, ELLA may not represent the "larger picture" of Fitzgerald's repertoire but does provide at least partial evidence to support this rogue impression of Fitzgerald as pop diva. These lesser-known works from the American songbook owe their survival to Fitzgerald's bubbly performances. Backed by a big band throughout, the divine Ms. Fitzgerald not only gives the impression that these are some of her favorite songs but even gets us thinking about how much we also love them. A pop singer's trick, to be sure.

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