HEY YOU! YES, YOU!!

HEY YOU! YES, YOU!!


However you may have arrived here, this is the old Not Not Silly Newsroom.

It's a long story -- hardly worth going into here -- but after this place was declared a Brownfield Site, we abandoned it for the NEW! IMPROVED!! Not Now Silly Newsroom.

Feel free to stay and read what you came here to read, but when it's time to leave go to the new place by clicking HERE.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The First Lady of Song ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Light up 99 candles because today we celebrate the birthday of the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald. 

Let's let her official website speak for her:
Dubbed "The First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums.

Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz and imitate every instrument in an orchestra. She worked with all the jazz greats, from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Nat King Cole, to Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman. (Or rather, some might say all the jazz greats had the pleasure of working with Ella.)

She performed at top venues all over the world, and packed them to the hilt. Her audiences were as diverse as her vocal range. They were rich and poor, made up of all races, all religions and all nationalities. In fact, many of them had just one binding factor in common - they all loved her.

A recent remix of one of Ella's most well known tunes proving her relevance to another generation

Biography picks up her story:
Born on April 25, 1917 in Newport News, Virginia, singer Ella Fitzgerald was the product of a common-law marriage between William Fitzgerald and Temperance "Tempie" Williams Fitzgerald. Ella experienced a troubled childhood that began with her parents separating shortly after her birth.
My meager Ella Fitzgerald collection, but I have the best stuff
With her mother, Fitzgerald moved to Yonkers, New York. They lived there with her mother's boyfriend, Joseph De Sailva. The family grew in 1923 with the arrival of Fitzgerald's half-sister Frances. Struggling financially, the young Fitzgerald helped her family out by working as a messenger "running numbers" and acting as a lookout for a brothel. Her first career aspiration was to become a dancer.

After her mother's death in 1932, Fitzgerald ended up moving in with an aunt. She started skipping school. Fitzgerald was then sent to a special reform school but didn't stay there long. By 1934, Ella was trying to make it on her own and living on the streets. Still harboring dreams of becoming an entertainer, she entered an amateur contest at Harlem's Apollo Theater. She sang the Hoagy Carmichael tune "Judy" as well as "The Object of My Affection," wowing the audience. Fitzgerald went on to win the contest's $25 first place prize.

That unexpected performance at the Apollo helped set Fitzgerald's career in motion. She soon met bandleader and drummer Chick Webb and eventually joined his group as a singer. Fitzgerald recorded "Love and Kisses" with Webb in 1935 and found herself playing regularly at one of Harlem's hottest clubs, the Savoy. Fitzgerald also put out her first No. 1 hit, 1938's "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," which she co-wrote. Later that year Ella recorded her second hit, "I Found My Yellow Basket."

When Chick Webb died in 1939, Ella Fitzgerald took over the band, renaming it Ella and Her Famous Orchestra. In 1942 she went solo staying with Decca Records, which had released the Chick Webb band recordings. The WikiWackyWoo fills in the next chapter:
With Decca's Milt Gabler as her manager, Fitzgerald began working regularly for the jazz impresario Norman Granz and appeared regularly in his Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) concerts. Her relationship with Granz was further cemented when he became her manager, although it would be nearly a decade before he could record her on one of his many record labels.

With the demise of the Swing era and the decline of the great touring big bands, a major change in jazz music occurred. The advent of bebop led to new developments in Fitzgerald's vocal style, influenced by her work with Dizzy Gillespie's big band. It was in this period that Fitzgerald started including scat singing as a major part of her performance repertoire. While singing with Gillespie, Fitzgerald recalled, "I just tried to do [with my voice] what I heard the horns in the band doing."[14]




Her 1945 scat recording of "Flying Home" arranged by Vic Schoen would later be described by The New York Times as "one of the most influential vocal jazz records of the decade....Where other singers, most notably Louis Armstrong, had tried similar improvisation, no one before Miss Fitzgerald employed the technique with such dazzling inventiveness."[6] Her bebop recording of "Oh, Lady Be Good!" (1947) was similarly popular and increased her reputation as one of the leading jazz vocalists.[24]
It was during this latter period of Fitzgerald's career that she entered the pantheon of musical superstars to become the First Lady of Song.

I was lucky enough to see Ella Fitzgerald at Toronto's Imperial Room.  I thought it would be her last tour (but I believe she did one more after this) and I thought if I didn't see her then, I might never have the chance again.

It was my first time in the Imperial Room, even though it was not my first time wearing a tie, required at the Imperial Room. It was also very expensive. It cost $75.00 per person and, of course, I took a date. That was a pretty penny for me back then, but I could console myself that it came with dinner. The Imperial Room was a supper club.


The mediocre meal came and went and now it was time for Ella Fitzgerald. The orchestra started it's vamp, someone introduced her, and v e r y  , v e r y , v e r y  s l o w l y Ella Fitzgerald shuffled onto the stage with an anonymous attendant on her arm.

All I could see was my $150 going down the drain in the interminable time it took her to get to center stage where the microphone stood. 

Yet, the minute she started singing, all those years fell away. While I had never seen Ella Fitzgerald in her prime, and only had recordings and movies to rely upon, I was taken all the way back as she covered all the highlights of her career, joked with the audience, and giggled like a little girl.

It was one of the most memorable musical moments of my entire life!!!

The Wiki also details her last years:
In 1985, Fitzgerald was hospitalized briefly for respiratory problems,[45] in 1986 for congestive heart failure,[46] and in 1990 for exhaustion.[47] In March 1990 she appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England with the Count Basie Orchestra for the launch of Jazz FM, plus a gala dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel at which she performed.[48] In 1993, she had to have both of her legs amputated below the knee due to the effects of diabetes.[49] Her eyesight was affected as well.[6]

In 1996, tired of being in the hospital, she wished to spend her last days at home. Confined to a wheelchair, she spent her final days in her backyard of her Beverly Hills mansion on Whittier, with her son Ray and 12-year-old granddaughter, Alice. "I just want to smell the air, listen to the birds and hear Alice laugh," she reportedly said. On her last day, she was wheeled outside one last time, and sat there for about an hour. When she was taken back in, she looked up with a soft smile on her face and said, "I'm ready to go now." She died in her home on June 15, 1996 at the age of 79.[6] A few hours after her death, the Playboy Jazz Festival was launched at the Hollywood Bowl. In tribute, the marquee read: "Ella We Will Miss You."[50] Her funeral was private,[50] and she was buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
As always it's all in the grooves. Here are some of my favourite Ella Fitzgerald recordings out of the hundreds that she has made.