The most classical of jazz signer, the "Great Lady of Jazz" is the featured artist for the last presentation of the Festival. She will be supported by Paul Smith (piano), Keter Betts (bass) and Bobby Durham (drums).The most classical of Jazz singers, the "Great Lady of Jazz" was born in Newport News, Virginia, in 1918. She grew up in an orphanage where she learned vocals by singing in a choir. In 1934, at age 16, she won a contest organized by the Apollo Theatre in Harlem.
Her voice was so natural and the pitch so exact that bandleader Chick Webb hired her shortly after he heard her at the Apollo. She had a natural talent for singing with a band -- a powerful voice and a strong stage personality. Ella Fitzgerald quickly becarne a magnet for the band.
She kept up the crazy pace of leader-vocalist until 1942 when, exhausted, she decided to give it up. Respected by musicians and public alike, Ella, now an international star, could well afford to let someone else manage her career white reserving the right to make crucial decisions. In 1946, she becomes part of the very prestigious "Jazz at the Philarmonic" under Norman Granz. Throughout the world fans are taken by her phrasing, her faultless vocal stylings; her stage personality and the natural confidence. From 1950, Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular jazz artist, along with Louis Armstrong. Together they recorded a rendition of "Porgy and Bess" still recognized for the fullness of the arrangement.
The full range of famous jazz pianists have accompanied Elia at one time or another: Oscar Peterson, John Lewis, Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Rowles and now Paul Smith. And what of her work with big bands... A recording with Duke Ellington who wrote "Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald" in four movements and more recently, a new production with Count Basie, "A Perfect Match" on the Pablo label.
On July 9th, make a date with 49 years of jazz greatness.