Live at the Concertgebouw - 1961
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February 10, 1961. The legendary Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. After a memorable performance in Berlin a year earlier, Fitzgerald was once again singing to a packed concert hall. Norman Granz, serious and to the point, introduced the musicians. Lou Levy had long been accompanying Ella. The quartet took the stage with the singer herself. In her fresh, almost girlish voice and that hint of characteristic impertinence, she launched into “Too Close For Comfort”, followed by “On A Slow Boat To China”. By now Ella had the audience firmly in the palm of her hand.
The performance was quite the opposite of what took place in a recording studio. Fitzgerald settled in as if she were in her living room, welcoming each spectator like a privileged guest and each song she sang, a gracefully proffered glass of champagne. The pieces had to be kept short because she had to see that all the members of the public were served.
Ranging from the melancholy of “Heart And Soul” to her teasing in the midst of “Lorelei”, when she announced that she was about to strip, overall she was witty, dynamic and rousing. There would never be a dull moment with Ella. As Bing Crosby so aptly said, “Man, woman, or child, Ella is the greatest of them all.”
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