Ella Fitzgerald

The First Lady of Song [Decca]

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Not to be confused with the Verve triple-CD set of the same name, this LP from 1958 nevertheless has similar aspirations, assembling pieces from nine diverse Decca sessions into an anthology. We hear Ella develop as a pop singer from the lighter-voiced period of the 1940s to a deeper, even more soulful purveyor of ballads by the time she finishes her Decca contract in 1955. By and large, the material is first-rate, including standards like "My One and Only Love" and "I've Got the World on a String," a completely reworked country & western classic "A Satisfied Mind," and even one of Ella's few compositions, the ebullient "Ella's Contribution to the Blues." The settings range from chamber jazz groups with Hank Jones on piano to studio big bands directed by Sy Oliver and Bob Haggart and the plush easy-listening strings of Tutti Camarata. A few of the big band and vocal backings may have dated a bit, but not Ella's contributions.

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