Monday, September 29, 2008

Autumn in New York

Ella and Louis Again
Recorded July 23, 1957
Track Time 5:58
Written by Vernon Duke
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA
Louis Armstrong, trumpet, vocal; Ella Fitzgerald, vocal; Oscar Peterson, piano; Herb Ellis, guitar; Ray Brown, bass; Louie Bellson, drums
Originally released on Verve EPV 5049
Currently available on CD: It’s on Ella and Louis Again and probably two dozen Verve compilations
Available on Itunes? Yes

I finally started doing the prep-work for my long-promised "Royal Garden Blues" entry, but I'm still not sure exactly when I'll have time to write it. However, not wanting to go too long with posting something, I thought the subject matter for today's entry was a no-brainer. Last week was the beginning of fall. New York City is the greatest place in the world. And I love Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald so much, my first kid is going share one of their names, depending on the gender. Throw in one of Vernon Duke's most enduring compositions with "Autumn in New York" and you can't lose.

It's the kind of recording even someone as wordy as me can't really say much about. Ella never sounded more beautiful, her voice shimmering with the sound of love. And Pops...well, what can I say? He sings a lesser-known verse and hits it out of the park with his phrasing. Then he picks up the horn and well, here come the waterworks. (And if you can't appreciate Oscar Peterson's backing, you're simply biased.) In the end, Ella's straight singing intertwines with Armstrong's wordless scatting and the results are sublime. Arranger Russ Garcia, who oversaw Ella and Louis's Porgy and Bess just one month later, recently told Marc Myers of JazzWax, "Louis annoyed her a little bit. When she was singing a beautiful passage, he'd come in with his growling. [laughs] She'd shoot him a sharp look and go on. It would throw her for a second. But it came off beautifully. Some people call that album 'Whipped Cream and Sandpaper.' [laughs]" Works for me!

Here's a YouTube video someone made featuring this performance over some beautiful pictures of the City (with some lazy repetition along the way...and how did Richard Gere get in there???). I haven't been to New York in five whole days and this makes me yearn for it badly. Enjoy...

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