Every year, when the weather gets warm I turn the speakers toward the deck and reach for my complete set of Verve Remixed recordings.
This set of electronic music sessions takes jazz artists from the Verve label vaults and sees them remixed by today’s top DJs and producers. Of the 5 discs, they are all playable all the way through. But the best disc is #1 and the best song is Ella Fitzgerald remixed by De Phazz.
De-phazz remix – “Wait Till You See Him”
In recent years other DJs and producers have redone Ella as well. Here are two of my favorites. By Simian and Pedalpusher.
Simian remix – “Sunshine of My Love”
Pedalpusher remix – “Slap that Bass”
Who was Ella Fitzgerald?
Ella Fitzgerald’s jazz singing career lasted 50 years. And she had the kind of vocal tone that microphone effects were modeled after. Smooth. Elegant. Like fine champagne.
She took home 13 Grammy awards and sold more than 40 million records. She was classy, benevolent. They called her “The First Lady of Song” and she sung with the legendary acts of her time - Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Nat King Cole and the incredible Duke Ellington.
Born in 1917, Ella was no stranger to racial tension. Regardless, her voice appealed to people of all races. She was only in her teens when she won a drawing to perform in the Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night. She had planned to dance, but after watching dance team the Edwards Sisters do so well, she decided to sing instead. Famous musician Benny Carter saw the show and decided to take Ella under his wing.
“Once up there, I felt the acceptance and love from my audience,” Ella said. “I knew I wanted to sing before people the rest of my life.”
Here’s Ella in her organic form. At home in the spotlight at 51 years old, singing “Summertime” onstage. Every jazz singer does this song but I dare say this version could be the best.
I covered Ella Fitzgerald’s life and songs for a short radio story. Check it out, part of the KEXP Documentary series Sirens of Jazz.
Michele Myers is a Seattle club DJ and hosts a radio show Saturdays 3-6pm on KEXP 90.3FM in Seattle – kexp.org. She’s a music historian, has produced over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries and written scripts and features for NPR, Experience Music Project and the University of Washington.