Ella Fitzgerald: I Loves You Porgy


I Loves You Porgy


Ella Fitzgerald (vocals)


Ella in Rome: The Birthday Concert (Verve 835 454)

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Ella Fitzgerald (vocals), Lou Levy (piano), Max Bennett (bass), Gus Johnson (drums).

Composed by George & Ira Gershwin


Recorded: Rome, April 25, 1958


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Ella’s voice may have been the perfect instrument to express joy, but she was also a consummate ballad singer. However, while the Songbooks with their big band or string accompaniments defined Ella to a broad middle-of-the-road audience, her ability to sing virtually anything on demand often created a certain emotional distance from her material. However, in live performance she would sing her heart out, and the Rome version of “I Loves You Porgy” ranks among the very best of Ella Fitzgerald on record. It is a striking example of her getting inside a song’s meaning, something she was not normally noted for. It is almost as if she has scrubbed the song clean of any emotional thumbprints other singers may have left. In holding the song up to the light, it gleams anew, as if being sung for the first time. Her singing, with its precise enunciation, pitch and breath control, her subtle use of tonal inflection and tasteful use of vibrato, especially terminal vibrato, is exemplary, but there is also an emotional engagement with the material here that was seldom glimpsed in the studio.

Reviewer: Stuart Nicholson

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Related Links

The Legacy of Ella Fitzgerald by Ted Gioia
The Dozens: Twelve Essential Ella Fitzgerald Performances by Stuart Nicholson
”Ella Fitzgerald” by Stuart Nicholson (from The Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians)

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