Personnel: Ella Fitzgerald (vocals); Count Basie (piano); Bobby Plater, Danny Turner, Kenny Hing, Eric Dixon, Charlie Fowlkes (saxophones); Pete Minger, Sonny Cohn, Ray Brown, Nolan Smith (trumpet); Mel Wanzo, Bill Hughes, "Booty" Wood, Dennis Wilson (trombone); John Clayton (bass); Freddie Green (guitar); Butch Miles (drums).
Recorded at Group IV Studios, Hollywood, February 15, 1979. Includes original liner notes by Leonard Feather.
Digitally remastered by Joe Tarantino (1987, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
A CLASSY PAIR is a most apt title for this session, which features Ella Fitzgerald and the final incarnation of the Count Basie Orchestra, perhaps the last major big band to exist under the baton of its namesake. Recorded in February 1979 and produced by the legendary Norman Granz, these nine tracks show Fitzgerald in a somewhat better light than the orchestra. Still in exquisite voice though in her early 60s, Fitzgerald shines throughout, from the opening "Honeysuckle Rose" through to the closing "Sweet Lorraine." Her particular highlight is a swinging, saucy "Ain't Misbehavin'," featuring a breathtaking scat solo. Featuring no particularly outstanding soloists other than Basie himself, who does take several excellent choruses, the Basie Orchestra provides entirely competent but not exactly inspiring backing. Fitzgerald's vocals more than make up for the occasional weaknesses of her settings, however.