For people who know me, it’s no secret that I learned most of what I know from the American Songbook listening to Ella Fitzgerald. The suave delivery and musically impeccable standard of her vocal performances are the measure by which most other singers in the repertoire are judged. And I thought that was a very good place to start. She doesn’t have to be your favorite singer for you to recognize the special quality of her recordings. You might enjoy other renditions of some songs more by other musicians, but Fitzgerald is always good.
As for incorporating a little more jazz and swing influences into my listening list, I turned to Mel Torme who is distinctive for, like Fitzgerald, his modulation over time, and his third act transition into almost exclusive jazz output. Torme also happened to be a wonderful actor, although there were few opportunities for this talent to shine.
While I don’t bill myself as a jazz specialist by any stretch, I love listening to its top practitioners. So you can imagine how wonderful it was to see both Fitzgerald and Torme on stage for a surprise – live – jazz bonbon during a presentation at a Grammy Award show in the 70s. Here it is:
If you weren’t bobbing your head or tapping your foot to this, I’d recommend a quick trip to your local doc!