"The First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald was arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time (although some may vote for Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday). Blessed with a beautiful voice and a wide range, Fitzgerald could outswing anyone, was a brilliant scat singer, and had near-perfect elocution; one could always understand the words she sang…
More than just a roundup of the Les Paul Trio's Decca recordings – which by themselves wouldn't add up to a single CD, let alone two – this 50-track set is a bewilderingly diverse compendium of Paul's adventures in show business prior to his string of hits with Mary Ford. In doing so, MCA has made amends for at least four decades of neglect, unearthing ten previously unreleased tracks as part of the deal.
Ella Fitzgerald was still very much at the top of her game in 1969, when this appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival was videotaped. Accompanied by the always swinging pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Frank DeLaRosa, and drummer Ed Thigpen, Fitzgerald works her magic with a number of favorites from her vast repertoire to the delight of her attentive audience, including "Give Me the Simple Life," "That Old Black Magic," and "I Won't Dance." But the singer was never one to stand pat with her song selection, so she was always looking at new material.
…Hans Zimmer's Oscar-nominated score is performed on the instrument du jour of the 1980s, the electronic keyboard. A dangerous move, considering the synthesizer's lack of cinematic sweep, and its high potential for cheesiness. But this is a great score. The lonely, atmospheric "End Title" track is evocative of the sort of wistful sadness that pervades the film. And "Las Vegas" is even better – it provides a major adrenaline rush, as driving drum machines mix with wildly emotive wordless vocals. It's a very original approach to scoring a cinematic moment.
Wrapped Up and Ready is the Mannish Boys' seventh recording and follows on the heels of their most wildly successful album Double Dynamite which took top honors in the 2013 Blues Music Awards for Traditional Blues Album of the Year. This time out the band serves up a whopping eleven originals and only five covers culled from the songbooks of Roy Brown, Ike Turner, Robert Ward, Magic Sam and Smokey Wilson.