Ella Fitzgerald (with Chick Webb): Chew, Chew, Chew


Chew, Chew, Chew


Chick Webb and his Orchestra with Ella Fitzgerald


Chick Webb and his Savoy Ballroom Orchestra: The King of the Drums (Tax 3706)

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Ella Fitzgerald (vocals), Chick Webb (drums),

Mario Bauza, Taft Jordan, Bobby Stark (trumpets); George Matthews, Nat Story, Sandy Williams (trombones); Garvin Bushell (clarinet, alto saxophone); Louis Jordan (alto saxophone); Wayman Carver, Teddy McRae (tenor saxophones); Tommy Fulford (pain); Bobby Johnson (guitar); Beverly Peer (bass)


Composed by Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald


Recorded: The Southland Café, Boston, May 4, 1939


Rating: 85/100 (learn more)

During her performances with Chick Webb’s orchestra, Ella not only served as featured vocalist, but also stood out as the band’s cheerleader. She is audibly in evidence on live recordings, encouraging soloists and in general egging the band on to greater deeds of derring-do. Rhythm was king in the Webb orchestra, and this kind of nightly character-forming experience helped shape both Ella’s style, and, as Mel Tormé has pointed out, her “instrumental” approach to scat. “Chew, Chew, Chew,” like “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” is another novelty penned by Ella. Cashing-in on the runaway success of “Tasket,” she celebrates the merits of bubble gum. The lyrics may be forgettable, but Ella’s powerful rhythmic approach is not. Band and singer are as one riffing this tune, and it’s easy to see why she was such a success with Webb; even the radio announcer is already calling her “The First Lady of Song,” an epithet that would stick for the rest of her life.

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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