Known as the “First Lady of Song”, Ella Fitzgerald for more than half a century was the most popular female jazz singer around the world. Discovered in an amateur singing contest in 1934, Ella Fitzgerald made history as the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award in 1958.
One of the most infamous moments in Ella’s singing career occurred in February 1960 when on a whim Ella added a relatively new song “Mack the Knife” to a performance she was doing in Berlin. Forgetting the words about a minute into the song Ella’s playful side kicked in as she improvised lyrics, Louis Armstrong imitations and self-parody. A recording from that night would go on to break the pop charts.
In December of the same year, Ella began her tour of Australia, arranged by Melbourne night club owner, Jim Noall. Her first performance, an intimate concert setting at The Embers in Toorak Road, South Yarra, Victoria, on 4 December 1960, was recorded live for the BP Super Show and subsequently broadcast to television audiences in Melbourne on 14 January 1961 and in Sydney a week later on 21 January 1961.
Backed by the Lou Levy Quartet, featuring Lou Levy on piano, Wilfred Middlebrooks on bass, Herb Ellis on guitar, and Gus Johnson on drums, Ella Fitzgerald performs 14 memorable Jazz and Blues classics:
Give Me the Simple Life, A Foggy Day, Heart and Soul, Imagination, Cheek to Cheek, Anything Goes, Little Girl Blue, Mack the Knife, and a medley of blues hits featuring Down Hearted Blues, Fever, Georgia on my Mind, Misty, and ‘S’ Wonderful.
“Fascinating close-ups, the night club atmosphere and, of course, the marvellous singing of the star, all added up to the “Ella Fitzgerald at The Embers” edition of the BP Super Show from Channel 9 last Saturday night as being one of the best shows of its type presented on Melbourne TV.” [The Age (Melbourne), 19 January 1961, p. 11]
This recording is considered to be one of the earliest audio-visual recordings of the “Queen of Jazz”.
Total Running Time: 51 minutes
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