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?


  1. That *is* one fine record. My "Ella" moment came when she played a local college. Snowy roads kept her drummer from reaching the place, and a local fellow (who played in a jazz trio) got a last-minute call to sit in. And I mean *last minute*. Nick Diehm got cues and coaching from the pianist and bassist, and sounded as if he'd been part of the trio for years.Ella name-checked him several times during the show.