Jazz Vocals

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Revisiting Ella And Oscar

21 MAR 11 ANNE FARNSWORTH

I love when two of my favorite artists get together to record. Ella And Oscar, a summit meeting between jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson recorded for Pablo in 1975, is now available in the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series. With the addition of bonus tracks, it's a great second chance to own this special release.

Famed jazz impresario Norman Granz, who had founded the high-end Pablo label just a few years earlier, produced the session. Fitzgerald and Peterson had been playing together for 20 years before recording, enlisting bassist Ray Brown for four of the original nine cuts. Brown had played with Peterson for decades and had been married to Ella, making this a family reunion of sorts.

When Ella was in her youthful prime, she approached the material like a jazz instrumentalist. It was a launching pad for her ingenious and inventive musical flights. In later years, she seemed to develop a deeper relationship with the lyrics. On "More Than You Know," her voice slides fluidly around the seldom-sung verse, halfway through the chorus, your heart is breaking.

Oscar, playing with his usual commanding presence, goes back to his roots with a stride feel that creates a sturdy rhythmic base on his double-timed solos. On the trio cuts, Ray Brown plays as he always has -- solid, supportive and so very tasty.

The bonus tracks are alternate takes of four of the original nine songs. Ella and Oscar prove again that they are consummate jazz musicians, their subtle changes in approach and feel a virtual master class on the art of improvisation.

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    More Than You Know

    Ella Fitzgerald & Oscar Peterson, from Ell ...