Tag Archives: Verve Records/UMe

What a way to celebrate this year’s end: A never-before-released live recording by Ella Fitzgerald

Forget the champagne and finger sandwiches. The best way to close out the year is with the important Verve Records and UMe release, the last gem celebrating their year-long celebration of Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial.  More than 60 years after it was recorded, Ella At Zardi’s will finally be released on CD and digital December 1. 

Recorded on February 2, 1956 at Zardi’s Jazzland in Hollywood, Ella At Zardi’s features the entirety of the evening’s two-set, 21-song performance, which captures an inspired Fitzgerald, backed by a stellar trio comprised of pianist Don Abney, bassist Vernon Alley and drummer Frank Capp, singing and swinging in front of an animated, adoring crowd, just days before she’d go on to record the album that would catapult her to stardom.

The concert was originally recorded by Norman Granz to celebrate the creation of, and Fitzgerald’s signing to, Verve Records, which Granz founded largely to give Fitzgerald the attention that he felt she wasn’t receiving at her then-current label, Decca. Ella At Zardi’s was planned as the label’s inaugural release but shelved in favor of the now-classic studio album Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Song Book, which kicked off a best-selling, signature series of Song Book releases. The Zardi’s tapes languished in Verve’s vaults for six decades.

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Ella At Zardi’s captures the brilliance and inspiration Fitzgerald’s performances embodied at the time. As veteran jazz journalist Kirk Silsbee observes in the album’s liner notes, “We can hear a fluid and joyous singer who operates with almost giddy authority. Ella manages to find a way of swinging almost every number, no matter the tempo. Ella uses her intelligent phrasing and rhythmic sense in inventive and exhilarating ways. Her repertoire was vast and she didn’t always remember the correct lyrics of a song. But the way she spontaneously redesigns the text in the most musical of ways is Fitzgerald’s signature.”

Ella At Zardi’s caps off Verve/UMe’s slate of releases in celebration of “Ella 100,” which has included the four-CD set 100 Songs For A Centennial; the six-LP vinyl box set Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George & Ira Gershwin Song Books and Someone to Watch Over Me, which marries Fitzgerald’s vocals with new instrumental tracks by the London Symphony Orchestra. The centennial has also seen the first-ever digital releases of her rare early singles for the Decca label.

Ella At Zardi’s stands out for its history-making rediscovery of a vintage performance by one of jazz’s greatest artists. As Granz enthuses in his stage introduction, “This is for real; for me she’s the greatest there is—Miss Ella Fitzgerald!”

For the first time, all of Ella and Louis’ classic duets are in one neat package: “Cheek To Cheek: The Complete Duet Recordings”

By the time Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong collaborated on their first duet together, they were each already jazz giants. Fitzgerald was an acclaimed solo artist for Decca with many hits and more than 200 songs under her young belt, first with the Chick Webb Orchestra and then as leader of her own big band. Armstrong, known affectionately as Pops, was one of the leading singers, trumpet players and entertainers of the day; a star of both sound and screen. Together their talent knew no bounds and propelled them further to stardom, and today are some of the biggest highlights of both of their extraordinary careers.

For the first time, all of Fitzgerald and Armstrong’s classic duets are in one place: Cheek To Cheek: The Complete Duet Recordings, a new 4-CD and digital set will hit shelves November 10.

 

Part of Ella 100, Verve Records/UMe’s yearlong celebration of Fitzgerald’s centennial, the 75-track collection gathers their three timeless Verve albums–newly remastered versions of Ella and Louis, Ella and Louis Again and Porgy and Bess–along with all of their Decca singles, live recordings from Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl, recorded as a warm-up for Ella and Louis, plus several alternates and false starts from the Decca and Verve eras, illuminating their craft and good humor. Cheek To Cheek also includes unreleased material:“The Memphis Blues,” with Bing Crosby, from his radio show; several takes of Armstrong’s solo showcase, “Bess, Oh Where’s My Bess;” and an instrumental mix of “Red-Headed Woman.”

The comprehensive collection is rounded out with extensive essay by Ricky Riccardi, the world’s leading authority on Armstrong, plus detailed annotations and rare images from the archives.  Need it fast? Pre-order Cheek To CheekUMe.lnk.to/CheekToCheek4CD

In addition to gathering all of Fitzgerald and Armstrong’s duets, Cheek To Cheek also gives a unique opportunity to hear what it was like to be in the studio with these two titans. The closing disc is rife with a bevy of alternate takes and false starts, displaying their camaraderie, with many previously unreleased, until now.

“The Very Best of Diana Krall” reminds us just how brilliant she is

Verve Records/UMe are celebrating the legacy of the incomparable multi-platinum Grammy-winning singer and pianist Diana Krall by releasing The Very Best of Diana Krall on vinyl for the first time in the U.S., as the greatest hits collection nears its 10th anniversary. The album is available as a two-LP set on audiophile-favorite 180-gram vinyl and follows last year’s release of eight essential Diana Krall albums on vinyl as part of Verve’s 60th anniversary celebration.

Covering the years 1996-2006, this 15-track collection compiled by Krall in collaboration with her longtime producer, the late Tommy LiPuma, features highlights from her first decade as a recording artist, during which time the Grammy winning singer/pianist’s expressive vocals and delicate, soulful piano work gained her international stardom.

Krall has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide, making the Berklee College of Music graduate one of the best-selling jazz artists of all time. The Very Best on vinyl arrives as Krall celebrates the May release of her acclaimed new album, Turn Up the Quiet, and current tour that will last more than two years, and take her around the world.

The selections on The Very Best range from intimate trio work to pieces recorded live with a full symphony orchestra. Krall delivers some deeply personal moments and reimagines timeless vintage standards by some of her favorite composers as George and Ira Gershwin; Cole Porter; Irving Berlin; Rodgers and Hart; Van Heusen and Cahn; and Bacharach and David.

Overflowing with career highlights, the album includes several tracks from Krall’s towering 1999 international breakthrough,When I Look in Your Eyes: her mesmerizing interpretations of Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Let’s Fall in Love,” and “Pick Yourself Up.” That album, her Verve Records debut, was nominated for Album of the Year at the 42 Annual Grammy Awards, the first time in 25 years a jazz singer was nominated in that major category. It won for Best Jazz Vocal and Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical).

Throughout the album, Krall’s artistry is highlighted on the Gershwin standard “’S Wonderful” and the Bacharach and David-penned title track from her 2001 Grammy-winning album, The Look of Love.  This album put her atop her native Canada’s all-genre albums chart for the first time and gave her the Artist and Album of the Year trophies at the Juno Awards in her home country.

The collection is also notable for Krall’s imaginative take on Tom Waits’ “The Heart of Saturday Night” and the dark and seductive “You Go to My Head” taken from The Look of Love sessions, both previously unreleased. It also features beautiful live renditions of “East of the Sun (West of the Moon)” and “Fly Me To The Moon,” recorded with a symphony orchestra at Krall’s sold-out concerts at Paris’ Olympia Theatre for her remarkable live album, Live In Paris.

Included on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums of the Decade list, The Very Best of Diana Krall is both the perfect sampler for the new listener and a reminder for her most passionate fans all the reasons Diana Krall is regarded as one of the greatest Jazz artists of her time.