Ella Fitzgerald & Chick Webb: A-Tisket, A-Tasket
Ken Burns Jazz: Ella Fitzgerald (Verve 549087)
Mario Bauza, Bobby Stark, Taft Jordan (trumpets), Nat Story, Sandy Williams, George Matthews (trombones), Garvin Bushell (clarinet, alto & baritone saxes), Louis Jordan (alto sax), Teddy McRae, Wayman Carver (tenor saxes), Tommy Fulford (piano), Bobby Johnson (guitar), Beverly Peer (bass).
Composed by Al Feldman and Ella Fitzgerald. Arranged by Al Feldman (aka Van Alexander).
Recorded: New York, May 2, 1938
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Brown at Birdland, photo by Marcel Fleiss
Ella Fitzgerald's breakthrough hit was based on a 19th-century nursery rhyme. At age 21, she plays a girlie who lost her itty-bitty basket, resorting as the track unfolds to increasingly childish vocal inflections, as if undergoing hypnotic regression. It's spooky coming from a grown woman. What redeems this track from dated novelty is the Chick Webb band, one of the Swing Era's finest. The trumpet and sax sections are particularly potent, and Webb could swing a big band with less exertion and fewer theatrics than his better-known competitors. Not even the ensemble's hoary call-&-response vocalizing diminishes their excellence.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz
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