Sunday, August 26, 2018

Der Bingle's Essentials: Ella Fitzgerald "Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas"

Ah, Ella Fitzgerald.  I'm sure all of you are familiar with Ella Fitzgerald.  If for no other reason (for those of us of a certain age) than her iconic commercials for Memorex in the 1970's.  (Ok, maybe "iconic" is a stretch).  I will admit, though, that those "Is it live or is it Memorex?" commercials are the first memories I have of Ms. Ella.

As my musical loves have grown over the years, I've come to appreciate Ella Fitzgerald as one of the purest and most natural voices ever recorded, not only in the jazz branch of the musical tree of life, but across all vocal music.  Her singing is so effortless, so perfectly pitched, with a style and phrasing that is extraordinary.  Awe inspiring...

"Ella wishes you a swinging Christmas" is a nearly perfect Christmas record containing 12 standards, opening with a rousing "Jingle Bells" and closing with "White Christmas".  Superb musicians accompany Ella, with stellar arrangements.  Her versions of "Sleigh Ride" and "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer" have become quasi-standards in their own right.  "Sleigh Ride" is particularly wonderful because its pace is slower than one might expect, but even at a more relaxed tempo there is an energy throughout the song.  It makes you feel like you're out on a pleasant sleigh ride through the snowy countryside.

My copy of the CD is a Verve release, but contains the original 1960 tracks.  A later Verve release included six additional tracks (I just might need to snag me a copy of it).

Truly Essential: "Ella wishes you a swinging Christmas"

Is it Ella or is it Memorex?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Quick Update

All is well here at Merry & Bright.  The health issue that sidelined me for a bit in July is fully resolved.  Now the only barrier I have in returning to the Essentials is my ongoing urge to binge-watch "Star Trek: The Next Generation" on Netflix.  :-)  Since raising five children curtailed television for about 25 years, I'm now catching up on a lot of things, including ST:TNG.  Have no fear, though, merry readers - I'll get back to sharing some Essential thoughts very soon.  Thanks for your patience!  Live long and prosper :-)