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Live from Carnegie Hall: Ella Fitzgerald and Newport Jazz

The Newport Jazz festival begins next week in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1973, the festival was based in New York City. Today, Live from Carnegie Hall revisits one of the Newport Jazz concerts at Carnegie Hall, when Newport Jazz paid tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
Album: Newport Jazz Festival Live at Carnegie Hall
Label: Columbia/Sony
Date Recorded: July 5, 1973
Fun Fact: A reviewer of the album on opines that the album was "recorded toward the end of Ella's career." In fact, Fitzgerald would go on to perform a 15 more times at Carnegie Hall, her final concert was almost 20 years later.

In 1972, Jazz legend George Wein temporarily relocated the Newport Jazz Festival from its Rhode Island home to New York City. In 1973, some of the festival events were held in Carnegie Hall. On July 5 of that year, while Thelonious Monk Jr.—a drummer—was making his Carnegie Hall debut in the Recital Hall, a star-studded salute to the Ella Fitzgerald was taking place in the "big hall."

That night, the "First Lady of Song" was joined by the re-formed Chick Webb Band (the bandleader with whom she made her debut as a teenager in the 1930s) pianist Ellis Larkins (her accompanist on the Gershwin recordings in the '50s), and the Tommy Flanagan Quartet, featuring Joe Pass.

Performing many of her signature songs—including her trademark scatting on "Lemon Drop—The New York Times reviewer thought that "she was at her best in the slow tempos of "Good Morning, Heartache," a song that she extricated from Billie Holiday's firm grasp on it, and an almost feather-light "These Foolish Things."

Ella Fitzgerald's connection with George Wein continued throughout the remainder of her Carnegie Hall appearances, the last of which was as part of Wein's JVC Jazz Festival on June 27, 1991.

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