Today’s collection is a beautiful collaboration, “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook”. This double studio album, recorded in 1956, is the 8th rated album on gq.com’s Top 10 Jazz Albums of All Time. This is my first female vocalist on the list, and what an outstanding choice she is.
Several things captured my attention listening to this album. First, it’s amazing how pure and perfect Ella’s voice sounded here. Her tone and range on “Anything Goes” is simply spectacular. It must also be said, it is remarkable how many standard classics all came from the creative mind of Cole Porter. Beyond the magic of “Anything Goes”, “Too Darn Hot”, “In the Still of the Night”, “I Get A Kick Out of You”, “Let’s Do It”, “All of You”, “From This Moment On”, “You’re The Top”, “Love for Sale”, “Don’t Fence Me In”, and the timeless “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”… it’s hard to imagine any other songwriter so productive in the creation of songs that not only narrate the first half of the 20th century, they live on every day in today’s pop culture, in our movies, television shows and theatrical productions. With that arsenal of songs, Ella’s flawless vocals and top-notch orchestral accompaniment, this album flows seamlessly with her peers of jazz and pop standards.
It is impossible for me to contemplate the music of Ella Fitzgerald without thinking of the cruel and inhumane treatment she and many other artists on this list were subjected to as they fought for basic respect and dignity. How appalling is it that she was good enough grace our stages and come over our airwaves, yet not allowed to eat in the same restaurants, stay in the same hotels, or be offered the same basic rights all humans deserve? Any historical reflection is incomplete without acknowledging our collective failures and more importantly, our continuing opportunity to do better and be better. Today I raise my glass to Ella Fitzgerald and all artists who persevered on with grace, regardless of their race, gender, religion or sexual preference. Thanks to her and all who keep working to make our world a better place.