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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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ELLA FITZGERALD

Rhythm is My Business

Essential Jazz Classics EJC 55672

 

 

1. Rough Ridin’

2. Broadway

3. You Can Depend on Me

4. Runnin’ Wild

5. Show Me the Way to Get Out of This World (‘cause That’s Where Everything Is)

6. I’ll Always Be in Love with You

7. Hallelujah, I Love Him So

8. I Can’t Face the Music (Without Singing the Blues)

9. No Moon at All

10. Laughing on the Outside (Crying on the Inside)

11. After You’ve Gone

12. Taking a Chance on Love

13. If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)

14. This Can’t Be Love

15. I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)

16. Body and Soul

17.Too Close for Comfort

18. Lullaby of Birdland

19. I’ve Got a Crush on You

20. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter

21. April in Paris

22. Air Mail Special

23. I Can’t Give You Anything but Love


Ella Fitzgerald – Vocals

Orchestra Conducted and Arranged by Bill Doggett (tracks 1-13):

Ernie Royal, Taft Jordan, Ray Copeland, Joe Wilder – Trumpet

Melba Liston, Kai Winding, Britt Woodman – Trombone

Phil Woods, Jerry Dodgion – Alto sax

Carl Davis, Wilmer Shakesnider, Les Taylor – Tenor sax

Bill Doggett – Organ

Hank Jones – Piano

Mundell Lowe - Guitar

Lucille Dixon – Bass

Gus Johnson – Drums

Don Abney – Piano (tracks 14-23)

Wendell Marshall – Bass (tracks 14-23)

Jo Jones – Drums (tracks 14-23)


This CD looks like a simple reissue of a 1962 album but it actually provides us with an intriguing contrast because it includes ten tracks recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1957. These differ from the “Rhythm is My Business” LP by being performed with a piano trio, whereas the original LP used a big band arranged and conducted by organist Bill Doggett. The songs are a strange mixture, interspersing jazz standards with decidedly odd items like Show Me the Way to Get Out of this World.

I am never optimistic that a big band will be the best accompanist for a singer, but Ella Fitzgerald overrides any difficulties by projecting her wonderful voice clearly and assertively over the big band, yet still sounding totally relaxed. Nonetheless the band occasionally threatens to swamp Ella’s vocals and it sometime screeches with the horns playing at top volume. Most of the eleven original tracks (plus two bonuses) are dedicated to pure swing; every number moves along powerfully and foot-tappingly. Most of the tracks last for less than three minutes, giving little opportunity for solos in between the vocals, and the sleeve-notes don’t help in identifying the soloists. But there is a good muted trumpet solo in Rough Ridin’ and some invigorating alto sax solos (Phil Woods?) on Runnin’ Wild and Laughing on the Outside.

The live session (tracks 14 to 23) is plagued by a few microphone problems at the start but soon settles down into a reasonable recorded sound. In April in Paris, Ella’s vocal gymnastics are extremely daring but she has the ability to carry them off. She finishes this track by scatting an adventurous version of Count Basie’s famous recording of the tune, including the “One more time” climax. Air Mail Special is a remarkable performance in which Ella scats and sings her way through a medley of about a dozen songs and finishes the unaccompanied coda by rising to a high note which is perfectly in tune with the band’s final chord.

My hi-fi and computer had problems with reproducing some of the tracks, especially tracks 15 and 16, but they sounded OK on my Walkman, so buyers should probably check the pressings if possible. But this is a worthwhile album to have.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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