I’ve had quite the day. I swam 3100m, ran another 7.75k and then cycled 45k with HRH as we prepare for our big ride to grandma and grandpa’s next week. So, yeah, I’m pooped. On top of that I had to endure another hour of Next Food Network Kids Star bullshit on television before bedtime and now that she’s passed out, I have about 45 minutes left in me before I pass out too. So I’m choosing to fill in that 45 minutes with another chapter of my book my book (‘Major‘ by Todd Balf) and a little Jazz Boner to ‘Mack the Knife: Ella in Berlin‘ by Ella Fitzgerald.
I admit it, while this album has been in my collection for about as long as I can remember, I’ve never actually listened to it…like, ever. I don’t even know where I got it. It’s just always been there.
I know, shame on me.
But tonight I’m righting that wrong.
The album is a 1960 live recording of Ella in Berlin (well, duh) at the Deutschlandhallen during the very peak of her form. Did you also know that it was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have “qualitative or historical significance”?
Well, it did.
In fact, what actually makes the performance so historically note-worthy is that Fitzgerald improvised lyrics for ‘Mack the Knife‘ after forgetting the original lyrics. And in recognition of this, she received the Best Female Vocal Performance (Single) and the Best Vocal Performance, Female (Album) at the 3rd Annual Grammy Awards.
Ella has some fine support her as well from her quartet – pianist Paul Smith, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Wilfred Middlebrooks, drummer Gus Johnson – Fitzgerald is brilliant throughout the well-rounded set, with highlights including ‘Misty‘ (a version very different from Sarah Vaughan’s), ‘The Lady Is a Tramp‘, ‘Too Darn Hot‘ and a scat-filled ‘How High the Moon‘ where she quotes the Charlie Parker composition ‘Ornithology‘ which is in fact based on the chord changes for ‘How High the Moon‘ itself.
Oh, it’s hip man.
Like, this kind of hip:
The record itself is a little worse for the wear but, hey, aren’t all the great jazz albums? Those little snap, crackle and pops actually enhance the listening experience if you ask me and this is no exception.
Definitely a wrong was righted tonight, the way it ought to have been.