Ella Fitzgerald, “Mack The Knife/How High The Moon”

As a child, I fell in love with the music of Ella Fitzgerald. Her soft, beautiful voice help to define jazz singing and set a standard very few singers have ever been able to reach. Ella in Berlin, recorded in 1960, might very well be one of the best live albums of all time. It certainly captures Fitzgerald at her best, and the two songs that close out the album captured two aspects of her talent. Her take on the pop standard “Mack The Knife” shows how clever and quick she was as a performer; she doesn’t remember all the words, but that matters little, as she improvises in a way that is humorous and delightful. The closing number, “How high the Moon,” is a lengthy, seven minutes rumination and absolutely impressive example of her ability as a scat singer. It’s absolutely breathtaking, and even as it’s been several decades since I first heard it, I’ve never failed to be stunned by it. If you’re familiar with these two tracks, then you know what I’m talking about; if you’re not familiar, please hit play and prepare to be amazed…

 

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