Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald was at her best with Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. But, some of her most intimate collaborations were with guitar virtuoso Joe Pass. A new CD of previously-unreleased material from Ella and Joe's concerts in Germany and Japan was recorded at the height of their magical musical partnership.
Scat singing was Ella Fitzgerald's specialty. And she was famous for her recordings of the great American songbook: George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington.
Ella was still in fine form at age 65, when she performed Antonio Carlos Jobim's "One Note Samba" at a concert in Tokyo, in 1983. At 54, guitarist Joe Pass was enjoying the waning years of a career that began in the 1940s, playing with a variety of big bands. Ella's vocals and Joe's technical wizardry were a perfect match.
Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass perform "Georgia On My Mind" from their 1983 Tokyo concert, released for the first time on the CD Sophisticated Lady.
In Hamburg, Germany, eight years earlier, Ella Fitzgerald takes a break leaving Joe Pass alone on-stage with his guitar. He can be heard playing "Cherokee" by Ray Noble, executed brilliantly by electric guitar master Joe Pass on the new CD.
At one time, Joe Pass was one of the hardest-working musicians in jazz. Hired by Pablo Records producer Norman Granz, Pass teamed up with some of jazz's biggest names. Among them were pianist Oscar Peterson, with whom he won a Grammy Award, Sarah Vaughan, Jimmy Rowles, Zoot Sims, Count Basie's Kansas City Six and, of course, Ella Fitzgerald.
Ella had already performed with a series of big band greats, including Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, Chick Webb and Benny Goodman, before meeting Joe Pass. With the help of Norman Granz, Ella launched her solo career that lasted more than 40 years. She was 78 when she died in 1996. Joe Pass died two years earlier, at age 65.
Also featured on the new CD, Sophisticated Lady, a 1975 duet by Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass performing the Duke Ellington classic "Satin Doll."