Ella Fitzgerald: Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes (Verve/UMe)

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald loved Berlin. And Berlin certainly loved Ella. And why not? The First Lady Of Song certainly had reason to; her 1960 album Ella In Berlin proved an overwhelming success, garnering her numerous Grammy Awards. Furthermore, the album provided a solid document of her live performance. So the discovery of a live show from 1962–released as Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes–proves exciting.

Fitzgerald regularly participated in Norman Granz‘s international touring revue, Jazz At The Philharmonic. For well over a decade, the traveling show helpled introduce jazz across America and the world. By the beginning of the Sixties, the tour mainly focused on Europe and Asia.   On the Winter/Spring 1962 tour, Fitzgerald headlined the evening, and recording the Berlin show for a future sequel made sense.

As far as live performances go, Ella is in fine voice, as is her band. Running through such classics as “Summertime,” “I Won’t Dance,” and “Hey Mr. Paganini,” she gives the audience what they want to hear–a soulful yet sweet jazz vocalist delivering some wonderful music. Her playful side comes out in her takes on Ray Charles‘ “Hallelujah I Love Him So” and the silly, fangirl referencing of “My Kind Of Boy” delights. Her versions of “Someone To Watch Over Me” and “Angel Eyes” offer fine torch song glory.  Yet at times part of her set feels a bit by-the-numbers. “Mack The Knife” is good, but definitely lacks the magic of the take on her first Berlin live album, while she rushes through “Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie” at a pace more comperable to The Ramones.

Ella: The Lost Berlin tapes might not rank next to Ella In Berlin, that doesn’t mean it lacks in pleasantness. In spite of it beinng a relatively sedate Ella Fitzgerald performance, it still charms and delights in its Ella-ness.

Purchase Ella Fitzgerald Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes:  Amazon

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