Personnel: Ella Fitzgerald (vocals); Marshall Royal (alto saxophone); Zoot Sims, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Bob Cooper (tenor saxophone); Bobby Plater, Danny Turner, Kenny Hing,Eric Dixon, Charlie Fowlkes (saxophone); Wilbur Schwartz, Hubert Laws, Bill Green, Ronald Langinger (flute); Clark Terry, Harry Edison, Pete Minger, Sonny Cohn, Ray Brown, Nolan Smith, Al Aarons (trumpet); Mel Wanzo, Bill Hughes, Mitchell "Booty" Wood, Dennis Wilson, Bill Watrous (trombone); David Allen Duke, Gale H. Robinson, Joe Meyer, Richard G. Klein (french horns); Jerome Kessler, Dennis Karmazyn, Christine Ermacoff, Barbara Jane Hunter, Robert L. Martin, Nancy Stein, Frederick Seykora, Judy Perrot (cello); Joe Pass, Oscar Castro-Neves, Paul Jackson, Mitch Holder, Roland Bautista, Freddie Green, Tommy Tedesco (guitar); Terry Trotter, Mike Lang, Clarence McDonald (keyboards); Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Rowles, Count Basie, Oscar Peterson (piano); Art Hillery, Jackie Davis (organ); Toots Theilmans (harmonica); Abraham Laboriel, Ray Brown, John Clayton, Jim Hughart (bass); Alex Acuna, Louis Bellson, Butch Miles, Shelly Manne (drums); Paulhino Da Costa (percussion).
Recorded in Los Angeles from August 1973-February 1982. Includes liner notes by Philip Elwood.
Digitally remastered by George Horn (1988, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
Like the similarly titled collection on Curb Records, which focuses entirely on Fitzgerald's Capitol recordings, this BEST OF ELLA FITZGERALD is not a career summation. Taken from tracks recorded between 1972 and Fitzgerald's mid-'80s retirement, this set demonstrates why Fitzgerald was still a forceful and dynamic presence in jazz.
Fitzgerald's exquisite voice had taken on a rich, burnished quality by this point in her career, and though she was still more than capable of fleet scatting, she had started to favor slower tempos and lower registers. Compare the version of "Fine and Mellow" here to those recorded earlier in her career and the differences are apparent. Some think Fitzgerald's best singing was done in this era, and they may be right.