Each month Peter Batten recommends a recording that jazz fans may wish to add to their personal library.
The Intimate Ella
In 1964 Ella won 2 Grammy Awards for the album Ella in Berlin. She was 42 and at the climax of her career. That year she also released this very different song collection. I recommend it to you as one of the very best of all jazz vocal recordings.
The album had a strange conception. Ella appeared in an unsuccessful movie entitled, Let No Man Write My Epitaph. Norman Granz decided to record the songs from the film – in which Ella appeared to accompany herself at the piano. For the recording she was backed by her regular pianist, Paul Smith. The mood is indeed “intimate”; the tempos are slow and relaxed. Ella’s voice is beautifully recorded and Paul Smith’s accompaniment is superb.You will never hear a better recording of Matt Dennis’s beautiful song Angel Eyes. My personal favourite is their version of Ray Noble’s lovely song, I Hadn’t Anyone Till You. Whatever the songs, Ella and Paul transform them with performances filled with subtlety and controlled expression.
[My copy of The Intimate Ella is Verve CD 839838-2]