Ella Fitzgerald

Oohs and Aaahs

Tony Bennett: The Complete Collection Sony Music More than thirty stars of contemporary or recent-vintage pop, rock, and country music sing with Tony Bennett on his two CDs of cross-generational collaborations, Duets and Duets II, the second of which was released shortly after Bennett’s eighty-fifth birthday last summer. The albums are narratives of pilgrimage. Most of the guest singers, who include Lady Gaga and Faith Hill, are young or youngish; and the oldish ones, such as Paul McCartney and Aretha Franklin, are considerably younger than the singer who brought them together.

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Forty years ago this July, a few weeks before what would have been his seventieth birthday (on August 4), Louis Armstrong died of a heart attack in the brick shoebox house in Corona, Queens that is now a museum in his honor. The pallbearers included Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Dizzy Gillespie, and Frank Sinatra, all of whom had shared the stage with Armstrong at multiple points over his long career.

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A Spell Deferred

Let’s say you have a daughter named Adele, and she is one of the most celebrated young singers in the world. Reporters ask you about her musical education, and you tell them that you raised her right, exposing her early to the work of four musicians: Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Dylan, and Nina Simone. What would you be saying, in essence, when you listed those four artists together, as the father of Adele, the phenomenally successful young English R&B singer, did a few weeks ago?

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Stolen Moments

Abbey Sings Abbey Abbey Lincoln Love Is What Stays Mark Murphy Near the end of 1956, two young jazz singers made their first albums: Abbey Lincoln's Affair … A Story of a Girl in Love, released by Liberty Records, a quality-conscious shoestring operation, and Meet Mark Murphy, issued by Decca, then a major jazz-pop label. Lincoln was twenty-six and black and a woman, Murphy twenty-four and white and a man, and both had talent and looks. For half a century, they followed separate and circuitous but roughly parallel career paths.

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Songbook Jam

Mos Def and His Big Band American Songbook, Lincoln Center The view of Tin Pan Alley from Harlem was so bad during the first decades of the twentieth century, a great time for white songwriters, that the African American lyricist Andy Razaf wrote a mordant work of verse on the subject, a "prayer for the Alley." Published in the 1930s in New York Amsterdam News, the black daily, the piece lamented the Midtown center of popular music as "lacking in soul," a place "where something original frightens the ear" and pandering technicians produce "dull similarities, year after year." Razaf, who died i

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