"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Dusty Fingers+Rare Grooves=Sweet Dreams

I was talking to somebody at work a few days ago about all of the public deaths in 2009, and they said, “We’ll be hearing new and un-released Michael Jackson tracks for the next twenty years.”

I said, “They’re still putting out Tupac records, aren’t they? You bet we’ll be hearing more Michael.”


Most un-released material wasn’t released in the first place for good reason, however, I’m not so narrow-minded as to think there aren’t gems to be discovered, or re-discovered. I got to thinking about this after reading a fascinating article in the New York Times today:

Yet Verve has just released “Twelve Nights in Hollywood,” a four-CD boxed set of Ella Fitzgerald singing 76 songs at the Crescendo, a small jazz club in Los Angeles, in 1961 and ’62 — and none of it has ever been released until now.

These aren’t bootlegs; the CDs were mastered from the original tapes, which were produced by Norman Granz, Verve’s founder and Fitzgerald’s longtime manager.

They capture the singer in her peak years, and at top form: more relaxed, swinging and adventurous, across a wider span of rhythms and moods, than on the dozens of other albums that hit the bins in her lifetime.

…There’s nothing rare about a joyous Ella Fitzgerald recording; the woman exuded joy in nearly every note she sang. Yet the level on these sessions soared higher and plumbed deeper.

Gary Giddins, the veteran critic and author of “Jazz,” agrees. “This ranks on the top shelf of her live recordings,” he said. “It’s about as good as it gets.”

I don’t know much from Ella other than I’m vaguely familiar with her work (my twin sister, Sam, loves her, and played her records when we were kids).

It’s not that I’m going to go out and buy this set, necessarily–although it does sound appealing–but the idea of it is amazing. The idea there are still hidden gems out there, tucked away in some warehouse vault…it’s enough to make your mouth water and mind float away in a dream.


Categories:  Arts and Culture  Beat of the Day  Bronx Banter  Jazz

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1 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Nov 28, 2009 7:15 pm

I am not a huge vocal jazz fan but this set sounds great. Love that picture as well with what looks like Duke Ellington at the front table!

Where was the last photo taken, somewhere like Spain or Portugal? The woman is quite beautiful but it's a rather scary picture I think..

2 pugzilla   ~  Nov 28, 2009 10:49 pm

It is Duke Ellington and the guy with the glasses is Benny Goodman. These are the times when I wish I hadn't lost practically all my hearing - chemotherapy effect, I believe.

3 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Nov 29, 2009 12:46 am

[1] "the woman"?! That's Ingrid Bergman!

Becky got the complete Ella songbooks box for a wedding gift, and I ripped 'em all to the iPod to play for Amelia along with some other Ella stuff Becky has. Really outstanding, though the criticism that the songbook records lack a certain sense of playfulness is a legitimate one. That makes this new live set, recorded amid those other records, all the more compelling.

One of the joys of living in the digital age is that these things don't have to have chart potential to get released. Beyond the unearthed, so much that was out of print (music and books) can be tracked down easily and/or is available at the very least digitally. To think of the things we have available to us literally at our fingertips via the internet compared to the work that had to be done to find them just 15 years ago, it's staggering. The romanticism of hunting down that lost classic might be slipping away, but that's a small price to pay for actually being able to have and enjoy it.

4 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Nov 29, 2009 4:51 am

[3] Agree about the increased access to music in this day and age, it's a blessing.

I couldn't get through a full listen of any of the Songbook sets..just didn't do it for me, and some of the material is just...well, Ella Ftizgerald (like Ray Charles and few others) could sing ANYthing and make it sound good I suppose...

Ingrid Bergman! No wonder..what a face, wow....

5 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Nov 29, 2009 4:56 am

Hey, went over to ESPN to check the NBA news..what on earth is it about college football that gets it on the front page every day? And why the hell is Tim Tebow a hero, because he's a Christian missionary? (from the little I read he sounds like a well-meaning but totally clueless individual as far as the rest of the world is concerned..) I guess college gridiron really is more popular than hoops these days...

6 bags   ~  Nov 29, 2009 9:06 am

There is an album referenced in the Times article called "Ella and Louis". It is a marvelous album. A little more soulful than the usual Ella fare (thanks to addition of Pops). Highly recomend it, even for people who aren't massive Ella fans. Worth it for their take on Autumn in New York alone.

7 Alex Belth   ~  Nov 29, 2009 9:41 am

I think Ingrid Bergman was so beautiful. And that picture was so arresting and strange I just figured I'd put it in there.

8 Toxic   ~  Nov 29, 2009 9:42 am

“Twelve Nights in Hollywood,” my dad would love that, at 82 quid he'll probably have to keep loving.

9 Toxic   ~  Nov 29, 2009 9:50 am

Cheers bags [6] "Ella and Louis (and Oscar Too)" now ordered

10 bags   ~  Nov 29, 2009 10:18 am

[9] Nice. Enjoy. Great point about Oscar Peterson. He's the best. If you like the Ella/Louis album (or even if you don't) try Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson. Classic. Great version of How Long Has This Been Going On? among others. And an epic (like 11 minutes?) version of Let's Fall In Love...

11 briang   ~  Nov 29, 2009 12:09 pm

hell yes, "i just figured i'd put it there".....perfect..i love this blog folks...awesome work. i'm hooked. johnson over halliday for me too....

12 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Nov 29, 2009 12:25 pm

Ella and Louis stuff is fantastic. There's a three-disc set, I believe, which has it all. They did two proper records plus Porgy & Bess, and there might be some unreleased stuff/outtakes out there.

13 The Mick536   ~  Nov 29, 2009 2:41 pm

How about the rerelease of Gimme Shelter, the movie that ended hipdom. One brother just died recently as did Irving Penn.

14 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Nov 29, 2009 3:20 pm

If we are riffing on old jazz, chase down Louis and Duke ... the one time they recorded together. Duke's music, Armstrong's band -- it was negotiated that way! Really, REALLY good. If you want to sample, check out 'I Got it Bad' ...

15 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Nov 29, 2009 9:52 pm

[14] I'll second that. "Duke's Place" from that album keeps popping up when I put Amelia's mix on random.

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--Earl Weaver