Here you can discuss other musicians and CD reissues etc

Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas: The Forgotten Ella album

Sun Dec 22, 2013 4:15 am

Ella Wishes You a Swingin' Christmas has become a classic for the festive season, and the CD issue is wonderful, with a number of bonus tracks added. However, nearly a decade later, she recorded a second Christmas album that is very different. Her contract with Verve had ended, and Ella found herself at Capitol who, oddly, didn't seem to know what to do with her. So, their first project was to get her recording...a country album. They followed that with a gospel album. And then a Christmas album. Clearly jazz never crossed their mind. However, while the country album is an entertaining curiosity in the Ella cannon, the same isn't true for the gospel and Christmas albums. Both are currently available on a single CD called Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas.

Unlike the first Christmas album, there is no swing or jazz material here. Instead, Ella leads the Ralph Carmichael Choir through thirteen sacred Christmas numbers. This finds Ella in unusual territory - more Mahalia Jackson than Ella. However, these performances are stunning from start to finish. Opening with O Holy Night, Ella is in full command, despite the unusual setting for her. This isn't an upbeat album, but these Christmas hymns deserve to be heard in all their traditional glory.

On CD, the album is coupled with Brighten the Corner, an abum from the year before in which Ella performs a set of hymns and gospel songs in similar fashion. There is some more upbeat material here, such as the title number, and Ella allows herself to add a bit more of a soul voice to some of the songs, such as Just a Closer Walk With Me. She would perform this number on The Tom Jones Show in 1970, but by then her voice had gained a little more roughness to it and the magic isn't quite the same as it is on the studio rendition, which finds her in wonderful voice.

Neither album is exactly ideal for background music, but they are undeservedly neglected, and rarely has a voice sounded more beautiful.

phpBB [video]



phpBB [video]

Re: Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas: The Forgotten Ella album

Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:32 am

It hasn't been totally neglected.

In the early 1990's, my brother and I produced a series of Capitol Christmas album re-issues, including Jackie Gleason, The Letterman, Stan Kenton, Lou Rawls, The Kingston Trio, Dean Martin and others. Ella was included in the group.

I worked from the half-inch three track masters and the quality was outstanding.

Re: Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas: The Forgotten Ella album

Sun Dec 22, 2013 9:45 am

Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas Album is just outstanding and absolutely one of the best of its kind. Vocally, she's dazzling throughout, although much of the track-listing is familiar, she excels on every version of each song. Like yourself, poormadpeter, I rate this one most highly.

Re: Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas: The Forgotten Ella album

Sun Dec 22, 2013 4:41 pm

HoneyTalkNelson wrote:It hasn't been totally neglected.

In the early 1990's, my brother and I produced a series of Capitol Christmas album re-issues, including Jackie Gleason, The Letterman, Stan Kenton, Lou Rawls, The Kingston Trio, Dean Martin and others. Ella was included in the group.

I worked from the half-inch three track masters and the quality was outstanding.


I didn't mean in the way of reissues (I think the current issue is the 3rd in the CD era), but by the public and critics etc. It's barely mentioned even in Ella biographies, whereas the first Christmas album gets lots of attention. Nicholson mentions it only in passing on his book on Ella, and Fidelman deals with it in a few lines, and not in a positive way. I'm not sure if the current issue uses the same mastering as the edition you were involved with in the early 1990s, but the quality is certainly very good indeed.

Re: Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas: The Forgotten Ella album

Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:13 pm

greystoke wrote:Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas Album is just outstanding and absolutely one of the best of its kind. Vocally, she's dazzling throughout, although much of the track-listing is familiar, she excels on every version of each song. Like yourself, poormadpeter, I rate this one most highly.


Yeah, why this and the gospel album are generally dismissed I'm not really sure - perhaps there was just disappointment following the final Verve albums (Whisper Not and Ella at Duke's Place were, after all, two of her best, most vibrant albums for the label) that she was singing anything but jazz.

I should add my chronology in the opening post was incorrect. Misty Blue came after the gospel and Christmas albums, not before them.