Ella Fitzgerald

The Best of Twelve Nights in Hollywood

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An appearance in Hollywood for a first-rate jazz vocalist was not necessarily an opportunity to broadcast your visage and pander to everyone from Tacoma to Tallahassee. It could also include a date at the Crescendo, the Sunset Strip's best chance to find premier jazz. Gene Norman's nightclub hosted dozens of jazz legends (and a comic or two), and produced more than its share of excellent LPs recorded on location. Better even than Mel Tormé's 1954 classic, the Ella Fitzgerald LP that resulted from her May 1961 appearances generated one of the best (and certainly most underrated) live records in her discography -- and almost 50 years later, it became a reissue event including a four-disc box set plus this single-disc distillation. The Best of Twelve Nights in Hollywood includes 13 of the 75 songs from the box, plus an exclusive version of "Take the 'A' Train." All of Fitzgerald's hallmarks (technical wizardry, breakneck scatting, irrepressible humor and warmth) are on full display, with a small but expressive quartet backing her performance, including pianist Lou Levy, guitarist Herb Ellis, drummer Gus Johnson, and bassist Wilfred Middlebrooks.

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