Ella Fitzgerald: Blue Skies
Ella Fitzgerald (vocals)
Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Irving Berlin Song Book (Verve 314 543 830)
Ella Fitzgerald (vocals),
Paul Weston & His Orchestra: John Best, Pete Candoli, Harry Edison, Don Fagerquist, Mannie Klein (trumpets), Ed Kusby, Dick Noel, Bill Schaefer, Juan Tizol (trombones), Chuck Gentry, Matty Matlock, Ted Nash, Babe Russin, Fred Stulce (reeds), Paul Smith (piano), Barney Kessel (guitar), Joe Mondragon (bass), Al Stoller (drums).
Composed by Irving Berlin; arranged by Paul Weston.
Recorded: Los Angeles, March 18, 1958
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
“Blue Skies” was originally recorded for (and eventually omitted from) The Irving Berlin Song Book, and it was first issued as part of an all-star jazz compilation album created by Playboy magazine, and later appeared on a Verve compilation of assorted bits and pieces from Ella’s many sessions for the label. The recording is still not well-known, but it features one of her finest extended scat solos. Like her famous “Oh, Lady Be Good” recording 9 years earlier, the big band arrangement exists only to support Ella, and she’s never asked to interrupt her improvisation for ensemble figures. Ella opens with 4 virtuosic cadenzas, and then jumps to a medium tempo for the opening chorus. Harry Edison provides pithy commentary during the melody statement, and then Ella launches into a two-and-a-half chorus scat solo. She starts out by adapting the saxophone riff playing behind her, and as the solo continues, she repeats and develops ideas with uncanny fluency. Encouraged on by the magnificent accompanying group, Ella builds her solo in a natural and unforced manner. There are plenty of quotes (“Here Comes The Bride” near the beginning, “Rhapsody In Blue” as the solo peaks), but mostly this is Ella, joyously creating music on the spot and spreading that joy to her audience.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe