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I first known Ella am from a compilation. Ella impressed me with her gentle and intimate voice. She is a superb singer that you are hard to find in now a day. She sings with her soul and feeling.
So I started to search for her album and found this "The Ballads" from a local store, I told myself must buy and try.
Date of release: 26 July 1994
Genre: Vocal - Jazz Ballads
Label: Verve Records
The Vocalist - Top Classic.
The Lyric - Graceful, flawless.
The Melody - Tunefulness, easy listening, soothing.
The tempo - Slow to medium.
This jazz ballads album embraced the 50's great ballads collections, including big-band and swing. It's remastered from the original LP by Verve Records.
The background of the music in this record is clean and clear, and Ella's warmth voice is closed to the LP. I am unable to pinpoint to her outstanding and flawless performance in every tracks. The only thing I can say is the instruments in some tracks were playing too hard, especially in track 14, almost cover Ella's voice.
It was really so relaxing and comfortable to enjoy this album anytime you like, even at the lower volume. Some of the tracks are really a good artwork in all ways - from melody, instruments arrangements to the performance of the singer, like track 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 11, 13 and 16.
It is an album of good old days from Ella's collections: "Best Of The Songbooks - Ballads, The - Ella Fitzgerald". It is worth to own her album! I lately bought another Ella's album (with Louis) but was still playing this very often.
A rough guide on individual track:
1. Oh, Lady Be Good! ~~ 5/5
I get caught when she sang "..oh....sweet and lovely, lady be good....oh...". This is a very excellent work, all the instruments - violins etc was just nice to play with Ella's seductive voice.
2. I'm Old Fashioned ~~ 5/5
The swing started at 00:44, "I'm old fashioned...."".....that's how I want to be......." Good instruments arrangements, every piece were fixed perfectly. I'm happy with it!
3. Laura ~~ 4/5
This is a big band workout. ".....she gave your very first kiss to you......". The French horn is as seductively as Ella.
4. Day-Dream ~~ 4/5
The big band starting with a crammed together, but Ella brought back my attention with her heartfelt day dream. The alto sax blew up like dreaming after another clashed of trumpet and horn or trombone. Ella should be rated 5/5.
5. Easy to Love ~~ 5/5
This is another excellent workout with a light instrumental play with Ella's deep from her soul's expression. The melody is so relaxing and comfortable ...and.. "....so easy to love..."
6. It Was Written in the Stars ~~ 4/5
This is another big band style but with a better layout of instruments. Ella is always perfect.
7. How Long Has This Been Going On? ~~ 5/5
A fresh started with a harp, xylophone & a crystal clear clarinet. The violins are playing harmonic with it. At 00:56 "I could cry.............how long has this been going on...." A very sentimental melody she sang. The trombone solo is nice but a bit short. "I could melt! Into heaven........" Wow!
8. Let's Begin ~~ 5/5
Another great easy listening swing style melody. The instruments were just tacit to play with Ella's perfectly. Piano, guitar, clarinet and the trombone play their parts without blemish. This track should play longer, only 3 mins.
The rhythms are very tunefulness that drives you to dance! "Let's begin..."
9. Now It Can Be Told ~ 4/5
The only thing is the violins were loud when played in loudspeakers, it is acceptable when in PC's speaker system. Ella is never down her standards. A clear guitar accompanied her.
10. There's a Small Hotel ~~ 4/5
Ella is gracefulness and the violins made the leads.
11. Do Nothing till You Hear From Me ~~ 5/5
A simple layout with a few instruments - mainly on guitar and a good solid bass, the sexy alto sax solo played again at 2:38. I like the length of this solo sax, sufficient to temper my ears! Of course the sexiest still Ella's.
12. Ill Wind (You're Blowin' Me No Good) ~~ 4/5
The trombone, piano, guitar and violins play peacefulness with Ella.
13. You're Laughing at Me ~~ 5/5
This track is blue, she is sad "You're laughing at me...." "I want to be romantic.." The horn is sharing with her feeling.
14. Ship Without a Sail, A ~~ 3/5
I don't like the violins too crowded to disrupt her voice. So I give this track 3/5. Sorry not Ella, I think it is the fault of the recording?
15. Trav'lin' Light ~~ 5/5
The trumpet, horn, clarinet & trombone in this track were well mixed with Ella. "...he may come back again.........I'm a trav'lin light..." she sang with hopes. An excellent big-band!
16. This Time the Dream's on Me ~~ 5/5
"Some where some day........" with a deep breath gave me a wow (I heard this breath when using a headphone)! The clear warm guitar attracted me when starting. She carried forward her blue mood from track 13! This time the saxophone solo at 2:03, at the right of Ella (on your left) so lively. Oops but too short for me!
Ella Fitzgerald (vocals);
Nelson Riddle (arranger, conductor);
Russell Procope (alto saxophone, clarinet);
Plas Johnson (tenor saxophone);
Shorty Sherock (trumpet);
Britt Woodman, Tommy Pederson (trombone);
John Cave (French horn);
Buddy Collette (flute);
Gerald Vinci, Sidney Sharp (violin);
David Sterkin, Paul Robyn (viola);
Eleanor Slatkin (cello);
Corky Hale (harp);
Paul Smith (piano);
Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis (guitar);
Joe Mondragon (bass);
Frank Flynn, Alvin Stoller (drums).
Thanks for reading.
This is an edited version, original published on Ciao.co.uk in Aug 2008.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Oh Lady Be Good - Ella Fitzgerald, Nelson Riddle
2 I'm Old Fashioned - Ella Fitzgerald, Nelson Riddle & His Orchestra
3 Laura - Ella Fitzgerald, Nelson Riddle & His Orchestra
4 Day Dream - Ella Fitzgerald, The Duke Ellington Orchestra
5 Easy To Love - Ella Fitzgerald
6 It Was Written In The Stars - Ella Fitzgerald, Billy May & His Orchestra
7 How Long Has This Been Going On? - Ella Fitzgerald, Nelson Riddle & His Orchestra
8 Let's Begin - Ella Fitzgerald, Nelson Riddle & His Orchestra
9 Now It Can Be Told - Ella Fitzgerald, Paul Weston & His Orchestra
10 There's A Small Hotel - Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Bregman Orchestra
11 Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me - Ella Fitzgerald
12 Ill Wind (You're Blowin' Me No Good) - Ella Fitzgerald, Billy May & His Orchestra
13 You're Laughing At Me - Ella Fitzgerald, Paul Weston & His Orchestra
14 A Ship Without A Sail - Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Bregman Orchestra
15 Trav'lin Light - Ella Fitzgerald, Nelson Riddle & His Orchestra
16 This Time The Dream's On Me - Ella Fitzgerald, Billy May & His Orchestra