Ella and Louis were accompanied by the Oscar Peterson Quartet for this 1956 release and it is primarily a vocal album, and a charming one. Having previously collaborated in the late 1940s for the Decca label, this was the first of three albums that Fitzgerald and Armstrong were to record together for Verve Records, later followed by 1957’s Ella and Louis Again and 1959’s Porgy and Bess.
Norman Granz, the founder of the Verve label, selected eleven ballads for Fitzgerald and Armstrong, all in a slow or moderate tempo, which gives this album an overall laid back feel and even though their voices are poles apart, they really do seem to work together quite beautifully.
I think that if there is an album in the used bins that is Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson together then it is worthy of consideration for purchasing, when it is £3.50 it is pretty much a no brainer, which is the reason I own this record. I am playing it now for the first time having picked it up a couple of months ago. First impression? Wow!
In 1973, Norman Granz (who had been Fitzgerlald’s manager) felt Fitzgerald and other traditionalist jazz greats were being marginalised and undervalued so Granz started the Pablo label, for which Fitzgerald recorded throughout the ’70s. The Pablo label was a place where established but no longer cutting-edge acts could sign and release their music without dealing with the pressures of larger, more sales-conscious labels. As such, the Pablo catalog caught many artists, including Duke Ellington and Count Basie, in the latter stages of their careers. And Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson were among them.
Just listen to that piano, overlaid with that voice.
Ella and Oscar was recorded and released in 1975. It must have seemed like a throwback to the 50’s, with its black and white cover, especially when the year in jazz was dominated by electric fusion albums such as Miles Davis’ Pangaea andStanley Clarke’s Journey to Love. Where does an album of swinging, sparsely-arranged standards and showtunes sit amongst this modernism? In my record collection, that’s where, along with Journey to Love (actually).
A1 Mean To Me 3:25
A2 How Long Has This Been Going On? 4:48
A3 When Your Lover Has Gone 4:54
A4 More Than You Know 4:32
A5 There’s A Lull In My Life 4:55
B1 Midnight Sun 3:37
B2 I Hear Music 5:06
B3 Street Of Dreams 4:03
B4 April In Paris 8:35