This month’s recommended listening is Dee Dee Bridgewater’s album Dear Ella. It was recorded in 1997 as a tribute to jazz pioneer and legend, Ella Fitzgerald (who passed away in 1996). Dear Ella is fantastic! The songs reinterpret the standards Ella made great, while still remaining true to the original. The orchestrations and arrangements run the gambit, from a full out swing orchestra, to a simple solo guitar and vocal. Dee Dee also displays her gift for scat singing and maneuvers through the changes in a way that can be described as a feat of athleticism. Also many greats make an appearance on this album, names that even the casual jazz connoisseur is aware of: Ray Brown, Slide Hampton, and more. Essentially Bridgewater had many of the greats that played with Fitzgerald throughout her career share their talents for this tribute album. The tracks I simply adore are Mack the Knife, Slow Boat to China, A-Tisket A-Tasket, and title track, one penned by Bridgewater, Dear Ella.
Here are a couple from Dear Ella:
BUT – I would be remiss if I didn’t include Ella’s live recording of “Mack the Knife,” why? Because she totally forgot the words; improvised, and spat out words that were graceful in her mistakes – and absolutely hilarious! Just a side note, I actually have this album in vinyl; does that make me a hipster?