60 years of Ella and Louis
2016 marks the 60th anniversary of three fantastic albums of jazz and swing music: Frank Sinatra's "Songs for Swingin' Lovers", Duke Ellington's "Live at Newport 1956" and "Ella and Louis" - the first of three Duets albums that Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong recorded on Norman Granz's Verve label.
To celebrate the anniversary of "Ella and Louis", Down for the Count are heading to top London jazz club Hideaway Streatham for a special show on Sunday 4th December 2016. The show will feature some of Ella and Louis' best-known solo hits, and we'll also perform some live re-creations of their duet recordings. Tickets are selling fast so get yours today - they are just £10, and under 16s go free.
As we prepare for the concert, we thought we'd share some of our favourite Ella and Louis recordings - one from each of their three duets albums, plus a joker in the pack at the end...
Stars Fell on Alabama
The first song we've selected to share with you is taken from the first duets album, "Ella and Louis". The album was recorded at the iconic Capitol Studios in Hollywood, a few days after Ella appeared alongside Louis Armstrong and his All Stars at the Hollywood Bowl. However, the atmosphere of the album is probably about as far removed from the raucous nature of an All Stars concert as it is possible to get - the 11 tracks are mostly ballads, and never get far above a leisurely medium-tempo swing.
The ballad "Stars Fell on Alabama" is a particular favourite of ours, and as Ella and Louis give it the definitive treatment we thought it should be our first choice on the shortlist.
A Fine Romance
In "Ella and Louis" and "Ella and Louis Again", the pair are accompanied by an absolutely incredible quartet of jazz musicians: Oscar Peterson on piano, Ray Brown on bass, Herb Ellis on guitar, Buddy Rich on drums (for "Ella and Louis", with Louie Bellson replacing him on drums for "Ella and Louis Again").
Despite being a quartet of world-class musicians, there are hardly any solos from the band - however, the voices of all four musicians sing through at various points throughout the albums playing a huge part in their popular appeal, and we think this is particularly true in a more up-tempo number from the second album - Jerome Kern's "A Fine Romance".
Bess You Is My Woman Now
The third duets album was a far more ambitious undertaking - a re-imagination of the Gerswin opera "Porgy and Bess" with a full studio orchestra. It was recorded in 1957, just a few days after "Ella and Louis Again", and one of our favourite songs from this album is the duet "Bess You Is My Woman Now".
The Frim Fram Sauce
For our final choice, we thought we'd share the rather unusual song "The Frim Fram Sauce". This was recorded in 1946, 10 years before their first 'proper' duets album, and is the first time Ella and Louis worked in the studio together. They came together to record two tracks for the Decca record label (the other was "You Won't Be Satisfied"). We'll be honest, "The Frim Fram Sauce" is a bit of a novelty song... but we still love it, so here it is in all it's glory.
We hope you've enjoyed listening to our choices - whether you agree or disagree with them. We hope to see you at Hideaway Streatham on Saturday 4th December 2016 where we will continue our celebration of this remarkable musical partnership.