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Ella Fitzgerald - Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes

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Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes

Ella Fitzgerald

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In 1962, Ella Fitzgerald was at the height of her powers, about midway through recording her now-iconic series of "songbook" albums and, two years earlier, having released a barnstormer of a live album, Ella in Berlin, that solidified her position as one of the most talented and popular musicians working in the jazz idiom. Her only competition at the time was, essentially, Frank Sinatra and herself. During the course of 1962, she would release three albums: two complementary collaborations with Nelson Riddle that further pushed her into crossover territory without tarnishing her credibility or minimizing her skills, and the oft-overlooked Rhythm is My Business, a hard-swinging set that comes off breezy and soulful, but is a remarkable document of the strength of Fitzgerald and her band during this era. And it's that strength that's captured on The Lost Berlin Tapes, recorded in concert at Berlin’s Sportpalast that year. Verve Records founder Norman Granz frequently recorded live sets of many of his acts (Fitzgerald especially), and that's what accounts for both the existence and the remarkable fidelity of these "lost" tapes. (Though they were never truly lost; Granz had just stashed them away). From a performance perspective, it's unbelievable that this concert recording sat unheard for more than a half-century. Brimming with energy and benefiting from the confidence that can only come from being at the top of one's game, Ella and her band careen through 17 songs with a full-throated fervor that's greeted with an equally enthusiastic response from the crowd. The set both swings incredibly hard and evinces a cool, sophisticated polish, a combination that, again, pretty much only she and Sinatra were delivering at this scale during the era. It's the sort of casual excellence that's made to look deceptively easy. (And yes, she aces the version of "Mack the Knife" here.) Releases like this—especially in the aftermath of the devastating Universal fire that destroyed so many iconic album masters and so much unreleased material—prove that, even when we think a barrel has been fully scraped or a vault fully excavated, there will always be warm, welcome surprises to be found in the archives of these legendary artists. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

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Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes

Ella Fitzgerald

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1
Cheek To Cheek Live
00:03:55

Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Irving Berlin, ComposerLyricist - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

2
My Kind Of Boy Live
00:02:59

Leslie Bricusse, ComposerLyricist - Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

3
Cry Me A River Live
00:04:36

Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Arthur Hamilton, ComposerLyricist - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

4
I Won't Dance Live
00:02:58

Jerome Kern, ComposerLyricist - Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dorothy Fields, ComposerLyricist - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Oscar Hammerstein II , ComposerLyricist - Otto Harbach, ComposerLyricist - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Jimmy McHugh, ComposerLyricist - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

5
Someone To Watch Over Me Live
00:04:12

George Gershwin, ComposerLyricist - Ira Gershwin, ComposerLyricist - Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

6
Jersey Bounce Live
00:03:32

Robert Bruce Wright, ComposerLyricist - Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Edward Johnson, ComposerLyricist - Robert Plater, ComposerLyricist - Mildred Maxim Bradshaw, ComposerLyricist - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

7
Angel Eyes Live
00:03:51

Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Matt Dennis, ComposerLyricist - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Earl K. Brent, ComposerLyricist - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

8
Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! Live
00:03:43

Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Billy Rose, ComposerLyricist - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Joseph Meyer, ComposerLyricist - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Bruce McDonald, ComposerLyricist - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

9
Taking A Chance On Love Live
00:02:32

Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Vernon Duke, ComposerLyricist - John Latouche, ComposerLyricist - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Ted Fetter, ComposerLyricist - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

10
C'est Magnifique Live
00:03:51

Cole Porter, ComposerLyricist - Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

11
Good Morning Heartache Live
00:04:57

Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ervin Drake, ComposerLyricist - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - DAN FISHER, ComposerLyricist - Irene Higginbotham, ComposerLyricist - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

12
Hallelujah, I Love Him So Live
00:03:01

Ray Charles, ComposerLyricist - Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

13
Hallelujah, I Love Him So Reprise / Live
00:03:01

Ray Charles, ComposerLyricist - Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

14
Summertime Live
00:03:00

George Gershwin, ComposerLyricist - Ira Gershwin, ComposerLyricist - Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Heyward Du Bose, ComposerLyricist - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

15
Mr. Paganini Live
00:04:29

Sam Coslow, ComposerLyricist - Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

16
Mack The Knife Live
00:03:46

Kurt Weill, ComposerLyricist - Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - MARC BLITZSTEIN, ComposerLyricist - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bertolt Brecht, ComposerLyricist - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

17
Wee Baby Blues Live
00:05:41

Joe Turner, ComposerLyricist - Ella Fitzgerald, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin Reeves, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Stan Levey, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pete Johnson, ComposerLyricist - Paul Smith, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Peter Johnson, ComposerLyricist - Gregg Field, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wilfred Middlebrooks, Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Ken Druker, Producer - The Staff at Berlin Sportpalast, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

A Verve Records / UMe release; ℗ 2020 UMG Recordings, Inc.

Album Description

In 1962, Ella Fitzgerald was at the height of her powers, about midway through recording her now-iconic series of "songbook" albums and, two years earlier, having released a barnstormer of a live album, Ella in Berlin, that solidified her position as one of the most talented and popular musicians working in the jazz idiom. Her only competition at the time was, essentially, Frank Sinatra and herself. During the course of 1962, she would release three albums: two complementary collaborations with Nelson Riddle that further pushed her into crossover territory without tarnishing her credibility or minimizing her skills, and the oft-overlooked Rhythm is My Business, a hard-swinging set that comes off breezy and soulful, but is a remarkable document of the strength of Fitzgerald and her band during this era. And it's that strength that's captured on The Lost Berlin Tapes, recorded in concert at Berlin’s Sportpalast that year. Verve Records founder Norman Granz frequently recorded live sets of many of his acts (Fitzgerald especially), and that's what accounts for both the existence and the remarkable fidelity of these "lost" tapes. (Though they were never truly lost; Granz had just stashed them away). From a performance perspective, it's unbelievable that this concert recording sat unheard for more than a half-century. Brimming with energy and benefiting from the confidence that can only come from being at the top of one's game, Ella and her band careen through 17 songs with a full-throated fervor that's greeted with an equally enthusiastic response from the crowd. The set both swings incredibly hard and evinces a cool, sophisticated polish, a combination that, again, pretty much only she and Sinatra were delivering at this scale during the era. It's the sort of casual excellence that's made to look deceptively easy. (And yes, she aces the version of "Mack the Knife" here.) Releases like this—especially in the aftermath of the devastating Universal fire that destroyed so many iconic album masters and so much unreleased material—prove that, even when we think a barrel has been fully scraped or a vault fully excavated, there will always be warm, welcome surprises to be found in the archives of these legendary artists. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

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