Mr. Norman Granz had recorded Ella Fitzgerald’s live performances in abundance throughout her career. Some recordings were released and some were shelved for unknown reasons. For this list, I purposely left the classic Ella In Berlin off of the list because it’s Fitzgerald’s most common go – to live album. However, with a career spanning multiple decade I wanted to showcase other amazing live performances by Fitzgerald throughout the decades.
After much debate, the top 5 live recordings by the First Lady Of Song (Part One) are:
5. Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington – The Stockholm Concert, 1966
Ella Fitzgerald is the type of artist that excels when surrounded by great musicians such as Duke Ellington and his men. 1966 was a turning point musically for Ella, her voice was beginning to deepen and her vocal styling was starting to be slightly influenced by the art of soul singing made popular by Aretha Franklin and Etta James.
Ella at Juan-Les-Pins is a 1964 concert that she shared billing with Trumpeter Roy Eldridge. Ella is in complete control and confidence of her voice. Fitzgerald set is a mix of standards and current songs of the day like “People”. Ella Fitzgerald handles each song with finesse and charm.
3. Ella Fitzgerald – Ella in London, 1974
The seventies saw the decline of the purity of Ella’s voice, however on stage Ella was still a pro. This set finds Ella in a very cheerful and playful mood with the audience. Even though, her vocal prowess and tones may have changed, Ella little girl quality still shines through.
2. Ella Fitzgerald – Twelve Nights In Hollywood, 1961
Twelve Nights in Hollywood is a collectors dream, packed with wonderful intimate performances by The First Lady of Song at the peak of her vocal powers. Even though, Ella has recorded tons of wonderful live recordings, Twelve Night in Hollywood extra special because it is the only recording that Ella Fitzgerald performs songs from her famous songbook recordings.
1. Ella Fitzgerald – Ella in Rome, 1958
Ella In Rome finds the First Lady of Song turning 40 and at the peak of her powers. Ella in Rome is a wonderful mixture of ballads, scatting and impersonations of Louis Armstrong & Della Reese.