Label: Pure Pleasure / Columbia – PPAN KG 32557 – 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl
Pure Analogue Audiophile Mastering by Ray Staff at Air Mastering London
Limited Edition – Pressed at Pallas Germany
This is a wonderful live album. Recorded toward the end of Ella’s career, by concert’s end it is apparent that she has about lost her voice, but not the audience’s adoration. The album showcases her in various settings: with the (obviously) reconstituted Chick Webb Orchestra, with Ellis Larkins, with Joe Pass and with Tommy Flanagan (of course); the album also has some nods to the Webb Orchestra, noteworthy for late-career blowing by ‘Lockjaw’ Davis. Highlights: “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, “Good Morning Heartache” (an intended and most worthy tribute to Lady Day), “Miss Otis Regrets”, the first encore of “Some of these Days”, and intended set-ender of Ella doing what she does best, scatting through “Lemon Drop”.
Recording: July 1973 at Carnegie Hall, New York
This impeccably produced (by Norman Granz, who literall built Verve Records and later Pablo around her), career summing concert takes Ella from her beginnings with the Chick Webb Orchestra to her then current quartet featuring Tommy Flanagan, Keeter Betts, Joe Pass and Freddie Waits, all brilliantly choreographed by master showman/producer/record executive Norman Granz along with Newport producer George Wein.
In between, Ella is joined by pianist Ellis Larkins for three duets and later, during a much deserved break, Roy Eldridge, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, and Al Grey take center stage individually in a small group setting followed by the Jazz At Carnegie All-Stars. Record producers John Hammond and Teo Macero have rearranged the order for home listening so it begins with Ella and her quartet on side one, Ella and Chick Webb’s Orchestra and then the aforementioned duets on side two, a medley with guest artists sitting in with her quartet followed by the Jazz at Carnegie All-Stars on side three, and a final side of a long Ella medley concluding with a heartfelt “People,” that she throws back at her adoring audience.
By then her voice is getting tired but the weaker it gets, the greater the adulation from the audience. Ella covers I’ve Gotta Be Me,” “Good Morning Heartache,” “Miss Otis Regrets (She’s Unable to Lunch Today)” and many others from the great American songbook that she’s long been associated with, making them fresh and young sounding despite her being 66 years old. She still sounds full-voiced and in control throughout most of the concert. Even on her very first hit, “A-Tisket A-Tasket,” where she’s supposed to sound like a child, she manages to pull it off.