The first of a five-volume series from the obscure British label Acrobat, The Legendary, Vol. 1 concentrates on the series of late-'30s sides recorded by Ella Fitzgerald at the dawn of her career, usually fronting the Chick Webb Orchestra for an occasional vocal feature or appearing with a smaller studio band. While early on, Ella's superior talent at reading a song was evident only occasionally, the swing powerhouse that was the Webb band became the perfect vehicle for her extroverted talents. Highlights include "My Melancholy Baby" with Teddy Wilson, "Goodnight My Love" with the Benny Goodman Orchestra, and the Chick Webb features "When I Get Low I Get High" and "Sing Me a Swing Song (And Let Me Dance)." For the collectors who want all of her material, there's the excellent chronological series on Classics, while listeners new to Ella will far prefer a less exhausting collection.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush