VOICES Notes and news on Jazz Vocals releases
29 AUG 11 ANNE FARNSWORTH
After appearing to rave reviews at an early-70's Playboy Jazz Festival, Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass began recording duet albums together. Easy Living, recently released in a new remastered package, was their fourth and final release. As in their other albums, their musical camaraderie feels organic and effortless.
Along with informed liner notes from Tad Hershon, there's a sidebar by Benny Green with some fascinating trivia about the songs, written in a wry, amusing voice.
There are a lot of familiar titles in this set. One of the lesser-known songs, "Don't Be That Way," a Benny Goodman staple, is a delight. Ella moves around the challenging jumps of the melody and adds a scat section that proves she hadn't lost her mojo.
Fitzgerald and Pass' decades of experience, both in life and in their art, deepen and enrich the sentiment of the music. "My Man" takes on a bittersweet cast when sung by a woman of a certain age. Ditto with "The Days Of Wine And Roses."
Joe Pass is hands-down one of the greatest accompanists in the business. He walks this brilliant line between subordinating his playing to the needs of the vocalist and doing his own thing so subtly that the listener keeps having these whiplash moments of "What was that? Awesome." During "Slow Boat To China," Pass cruises through a few different keys in his solo before circling back to pick up his singer. This is one ship you definitely want to book passage for.