You know, it never seemed like we were really recording
November 7, 2016 10:56 AM   Subscribe

The album cover is a picture of two middle-aged black people, seated on folding chairs. The woman is in her late thirties, the man in his mid-fifties. She wears a plain print housedress and a wry expression; the man’s white socks are rolled at the ankles. A trumpet is on his lap, supporting his folded arms. There is no written information on the cover other than the name of the record label: “Verve,” it says. “A Panoramic True High Fidelity Record.” On the spine is the album’s title: "Ella and Louis.”
posted by eotvos (23 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
I have always adored that picture, and of course loved the album. Multiple layers of perfection. Those two should be canonized and their recordings affixed to Voyager 3 once we send it out after the others.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

The weird thing is that Louis walked into that room looking dapper as hell. Then he sat down next to Ella, who is so cool that he turned into Urkel.
posted by Etrigan at 11:32 AM on November 7, 2016 [19 favorites]

A great collaboration, one with a lot of sentiment for me. They were my mom's two favorite artists when I was growing up, and so I was fortunate to hear a lot of their music when I probably wouldn't have sought it out for myself. Then when I met my wife, she had a copy of "Ella and Louis Again" in her car, which became the soundtrack to our early relationship. I really enjoy just how *fun* the songs sound.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:02 PM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

A tremendous album, two giants at their best, and of interest to jazz fans and non-fans alike. (Although personally, I like 'Ella and Louis Again' more, but that's a matter of preference.)

“Ella and Louis” helped rekindle interest in what would become known as The Great American Songbook.

I had no idea. I will go to my grave asserting that Ella's complete songbooks make for one of the greatest achievements in all of Art.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:14 PM on November 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

Their version of "Moonlight in Vermont" is my absolute all-time favorite.
posted by tommasz at 12:23 PM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

one of my all-time favorite records -- thanks for the backstory!
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 1:20 PM on November 7, 2016

God DAMN do they swing...
posted by twsf at 1:22 PM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Nearness of You is most sublime.
posted by y2karl at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've had this album for a long time. I first heard it in college from a jazzbo friend of mine, when I thought jazz was for crusty elitists like some of my high school teachers (though I actually came to love their Charlie Parker and their Miles Davis and their Coltrane. Just had to grow up a bit). Was so glad to be proved wrong. Ella's voice is just sublime on this album. Louis' so heartfelt. I want to hug them both, and then beg Oscar to be my piano teacher.

"Once, at a JATP concert in Houston, Texas, Granz caught a vice squad officer who Granz assumed was planting drugs in Fitzgerald’s dressing room toilet. When confronted, the cop put his gun in Granz’ stomach, saying, 'I ought to shoot you.' Granz pushed hard against the Houston police department, resulting in the case being dropped."

And for what? None of these people had the insight to see that, with the same energy they were using to try and destroy people's lives, they could become part of the celebration of life that was going on on the stage? It absolutely boggles my mind, truly.

posted by droplet at 1:46 PM on November 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Ella and Louis, as the title points out, get all the attention (and deservedly so), but oh my goodness, what legendary musicians are right there behind them. Oscar Peterson, Buddy Rich, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis – you‘re not going to go far wrong with those people backing you up.
posted by LeLiLo at 1:52 PM on November 7, 2016 [10 favorites]

Ray Brown

Who was Fitzgerald's ex-husband at the time of this recording. I guess they stayed on friendly terms, at least in professional life.
posted by thelonius at 1:59 PM on November 7, 2016

How has music been part of humanity for thousands (?) of years, but these two unassuming people took it to another level? I'm no musician, but the old ones told me that there's only twelve notes that a man can play.
posted by Sphinx at 2:09 PM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Moonlight in Vermont" Total perfection.
posted by mightshould at 2:57 PM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

That's a lovely essay, and thanks to it I finally pulled the trigger and bought a bunch of Ella Fitzgerald albums I'd been considering for months now...

The author, incidentally, is Tom Maxwell, who wrote the Squirrel Nut Zippers' best songs and has a handful of albums of his own which are sadly underrated and deserve more notice.
posted by ardgedee at 3:09 PM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nice article.

I heard me some Ella today while working from home and listening to the local jazz FM station.

Her singing and musicality are SO good... And I've always enjoyed Louis.
posted by Artful Codger at 4:16 PM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

This really brings memories..

I owned those albums, along with a huge stack of prewar records that my grandpa had brought (or more probably sent) home from the US when he was there during the -30s. He lived at International House at the Upper West Side in New York, and explored the sounds and tastes of Harlem from there, and forever after loved jazz. When he died, he left all his music to me. I lost them during a storm, when the basement they were in was flooded.

Some of my fondest memories are from my grandparents' house, being alone, listening to blues and jazz albums, and learning to sing from them. I owed being the star of our high school musical to listening to those records. I've later left singing altogether, but the memories of Ella and Louis, with the sun filtered by climbers and the freedom of my grandparents' love are some of my best.
posted by mumimor at 5:32 PM on November 7, 2016 [8 favorites]

What luck -- for us -- that they lived at the same time! Separately they each produced plenty of great music, but their work together is just so good.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:22 PM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oscar Peterson lived in the neighbourhood I grew up in (Mississauga near Erindale Secondary). I used to see him washing his car. I still think it is weird that he was a mere mortal and had to do stuff like that.
posted by srboisvert at 8:14 PM on November 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

Their individual albums with Oscar Peterson are wonders as well, as in, well, ahem ...

Little is new beneath the MetaFilter sun...
posted by y2karl at 10:00 PM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

well, entirely new...
on rare occasion...

posted by y2karl at 10:13 PM on November 7, 2016

When I was in college in Chicago, I would traipse down to the local library branch to get my exposure to new music, because I was absolutely broke. After I had exhausted the store of new music that would be appealing to a college student in the late 80s (Cure, Smiths, Midnight Oil, etc.), I resigned myself to trying out the real alternative music: jazz. On a whim, I picked up a CD copy of Ella and Louis, thinking that it might prove to be insightful and maybe funny to play in the dorm.

It was insightful, all right -- it's a master class in what jazz can be, and what the greatest musicians in the world can conspire to create. And although I wouldn't call it funny, it calls up the deepest wells of delight that can be summoned by music. It's a sheer delight, and as a college student it opened up doors to music that I've never tried to close.
posted by vverse23 at 10:40 PM on November 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

"Unassuming" is the right word. That cover is a picture of two professionals who showed up to do a good day's work. They just happen to be two of the greatest jazz singers, ever.
posted by in278s at 6:40 AM on November 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Virtually everything they touched turned to timeless gold. And when you consider what the linked piece points out -- which is that they both did much of their best work in the face of the ugliest racism and bigotry imaginable -- the achievement stands out in even higher relief: the art of joy and love, in the face of implacable hatred. A timely message, actually.
posted by blucevalo at 7:48 AM on November 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

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