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Ella overcomes clumsy editing to shine
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Ella overcomes clumsy editing to shine

by Andrew Hamlin - SGN Contributing Writer

ELLA FITZGERALD
ELLA IN HOLLYWOOD


One of several theoretically live albums produced for Ella "under the personal supervision of Norman Granz," which, not taking anything away from Norman Granz, means the applause washes in and out suspiciously regularly, like the tides, and sometimes, unlike the tides, flips into the monaural until the Grand(z) Overseeing System drains the water out of its figurative other ear. Songs start right in stomping on the tails of their predecessors, which could mean the band's tight as well as hot "tonight," and could also imply some hurry-up offense editing in the back room.

None of which makes any difference. Ella stretches and sweetens syllables and vowels to suit her. An almost nine-minute "Take The 'A' Train" ranges from her running for her life in front of the rhythm section to blowing a whistle (subway trains may not have 'em, but Ella does) as the rolling stock chuffs its way into - well, Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway, for all it matters! Songs of love and longing go by but Ella always made up her own tongues as she leaned into a song, and the finale, "Air Mail Special," shows off that vocabulary. I think the only English on that tune is the rumination on whether she bit her tongue and still stayed in key. The rest is something only God can understand, but everybody can feel. (And I don't even believe in God.) Leap over something you thought you needed to get to this one.

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