Live at the Savoy 1939-40

Live at the Savoy 1939-40

by Ella Fitzgerald


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This CD is surprising for two reasons. It is probably the only Ella Fitzgerald album ever that does not have a single vocal by Ella, being comprised entirely of instrumentals by her orchestra of 1939-1940, taken from radio broadcasts. The fact that Ella is absent (other than yelling out encouragement to her sidemen) should have been mentioned on the outside of the CD; she does not even sing her hit "Undecided." The other surprise is how good her orchestra sounds. The Chick Webb Orchestra, once Ella had proven to be a commercial success, recorded few exciting instrumentals during 1938-1939 and were obviously searching for a hit. After Webb's death in mid-1939, Ella was named the leader of the big band (though she did little other than sing), and the band lasted till 1942 without any further hits or making much of an impression. But these 24 selections show that, when allowed to cut loose, it was an excellent and potentially great swing orchestra. Surprisingly, Bobby Stark, a great player with Fletcher Henderson but one who rarely was given solos during his years with Webb, takes all of the trumpet solos heard on the first 20 selections; Taft Jordan gets his usual featured spot back during the final broadcast. Stark, though a bit streaky, is exciting throughout, and this is his best showcase since he left Henderson in 1934. Also distinguishing themselves are trombonist Sandy Williams (heard at his very best), clarinetist Eddie Barefield, Teddy McRae on tenor, and pianist Tommy Fulford. Wayman Carver has a rare flute solo on "I've Found a New Baby," drummer Bill Beason really drives the band throughout, and the completely unknown Lonnie Simmons is exciting while dominating the final two selections. There are many heated killer-dillers to be heard throughout this surprising program, which is mostly comprised of previously unreleased performances, making one reassess the largely forgotten Ella Fitzgerald Orchestra. But just don't expect Ella to sing this time around.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/07/2007
Label: Hep Records
UPC: 0603366008224
catalogNumber: 82
Rank: 103761

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ella Fitzgerald   Primary Artist
Eddie Barefield   Alto Saxophone
Taft Jordan   Trumpet
Bill Beason   Drums
Garvin Bushell   Alto Saxophone
Wayman Carver   Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Tommy Fulford   Piano
Hilton Jefferson   Alto Saxophone
George Matthews   Trombone
Teddy McRae   Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Beverly Peer   Baritone Saxophone
Irving "Mouse" Randolph   Trumpet
Lonnie Simmons   Tenor Saxophone
Nat Story   Trombone
John Trueheart   Guitar
Dick Vance   Trumpet
Sandy Williams   Trombone
Bobby Stark   Trumpet
Boby Stark   Trumpet

Technical Credits

Count Basie   Composer
King Oliver   Composer
Frank Melrose   Composer
Edgar Sampson   Composer
Chick Webb   Composer
Charles Davis   Composer
Louis Armstrong   Composer
Frank Driggs   Liner Notes,Photo Courtesy
Jack Palmer   Composer
Cole Porter   Composer
Bert Williams   Composer
Benny Goodman & His Orchestra   Composer
Alastair Robertson   Producer,Audio Production
Sam Coslow   Composer

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