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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

Naxos 8120540


Ella Fitzgerald vocals with her Savoy Eight, and her Famous Orchestra, Chick Webb and his Orchestra, Teddy Wilson and his Orch., Benny Goodman and his Orch.

Original Recordings 1936 - 1941

1. A - Tisket, A - Tasket
2. You Showed Me The Way
3. My Melancholy Baby
4. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen
5. ( I've Been ) Saving Myself For You
6. Pack Up Your Sins And Go To The Devil
7. My Wubba Dolly
8. I'm The Lonesomest Gal In Town
9. MacPherson Is Rehearsin' ( To Swing )
10. Baby Won't You Please Come Home
11. Cryin' Mood
12. The Darktown Strutter's Ball
13. Goodnight, My Love
14. The Muffin Man
15. If Dreams Come True
16. You're Gonna Lose Your Gal
17. If You Ever Change Your Mind
18. Undecided

The tracks on this issue feature some of the earliest waxings by Ella Fitzgerald ( she made her recording debut in 1935 ). Ella had given her first performance in New York in 1934 at the Apollo Theatre having won a radio talent competition - she was seventeen years old at this time.

The majority of the selections here are from the Chick Webb Orchestra which was resident, for much of the time span covered on this disc, at the famous Savoy Ballroom. When Webb died of tuberculosis in 1939 Ella continued to perform with the band, indeed the band now appeared under her name. Also on this disc is one track with Teddy Wilson and one track with the Benny Goodman Orchestra.

The material selected for these recordings consists mainly of standard tunes with the addition of three novelty numbers. The best known of these is " A - Tisket, A - Tasket" which is based on a nursery - rhyme from 1879 with the words adapted by Ella. According to the liner notes Decca were reluctant to release this side. However, they were proved wrong when it reached the top of the U.S. charts and remained on the list for nineteen further weeks. This track is probably the most well - known from Ella's earliest recordings. It is a charming example of her girlish vocal style ( she never lost the girlish inflection in her voice ) and wry humour. This song comes complete with vocal responses from the band.

There are some interesting names in the Chick Webb Orchestra at this time including Taft Jordan and Mario Bauza on trumpets ( Bauza was one of the first musicians to introduce the Cuban concept to New York and was to be a great influence on Dizzy Gillespie and his bands ). On saxophones are Hilton Jefferson, who had a couple of years with Ellington in the absence of Johnny Hodges, Louis Jordan and Wayman Carver ( Carver was one of the first players to perform jazz on the flute ).

The standard tunes present on this disc are a mixture of the well - known and the less common. I particularly enjoyed " Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen " with its minor Jewish tonality and " Cryin' Mood". Ella sings beautifully throughout ( surely she never sang in any other way )and there is a wonderful mix of youth and maturity in her interpretations. This is a disc for anyone who appreciates a quality performance of a good song.

Dick Stafford

D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living in Coventry.

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