The First Lady of Song!
Ella Fitzgerald started out in the mid-30s, releasing duets with male singers.
Her first hit came with drummer and bandleader Chick Webb and their song A-Tisket, A-Tasket. It became one of the biggest selling records of the 30s and brought them nationwide success.
After Chick passed away, Ella continued with the band, now renamed Ella and Her Famous Orchestra. They recorded 150 songs until 1942 when Ella decided to go solo.
Most recordings in the 30s were novelty stuff, as the 40s rolled in with Bebop, Fitzgerald took to this style and started performing her famed scat-singing solos. Most successfully so in collaboration with Dizzy Gillespie’s band.
She described it as “I just tried to do (with my voice) what I heard the horns in the band doing.”
Lost in Bebop until 1954, Ella reached a breaking point, she said:
“I had gotten to the point where I was only singing be-bop. I thought be-bop was ‘it’, and that all I had to do was go someplace and sing bop. But it finally got to the point where I had no place to sing. I realized then that there was more to music than bop. Norman Granz felt that I should do other things, so he produced Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book with me. It was a turning point in my life.”
Indeed it was, it was the starting point of a concept she would keep up for almost a decade.
The name of each album says it all: Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter (56), Rodgers & Hart (56), Duke Ellington (57), Irving Berlin (58), George and Ira Gershwin (59), Harold Arlen (61), Jerome Kern (63), and Johnny Mercer (64) Song Book.
In many ways, Ella’s versions made these songs. Most music journalists love to praise this body of work when they talk about the great American songbook and how it’s a gift to the American culture.
One thing is certain, if you want to play jazz, you have to look into the songs Ella Fitzgerald performed as she pretty much sang them all!
Between 1950 and 1988, Ella Fitzgerald released 61 studio albums and 25 live albums. She really is The First Lady Of Song!
Baby Won’t You Please Come Home – Chords
Baby Won’t You Please Come Home is a Jazz/Blues written by Clarence Williams.
Sung by Bessie Smith, Nat King Cole & Ella Fitzgerald it has become a jazz standard.
Baby Won’t You Please Come Home – Lyrics
Baby won’t you please come home, ’cause your mama’s all alone.
I have cried in vain, never no more to call your name.
When you left you broke my heart,
’cause I never thought we’d part.
Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Chords
I’ve recorded Mama Cass classic version of Dream A Little Dream Of Me almost note for note.
That’s until the chorus kicks in. On the original recording, there is little guitar so this section has been arranged almost from scratch to work on one acoustic guitar.
Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Lyrics
Stars shining bright above you,
night breezes seem to whisper, “I love you”.
Birds singing in the sycamore tree,
dream a little dream of me.
Get Ready – Chords
Get Ready is a song that moves from a repetitive Minor Pentatonic verse riff to a simple four-chord chorus progression.
When the solo comes along, we take the original sax and string ideas and put them on the guitar.
Go to Get Ready chords.
Get Ready – Lyrics
I never met a girl who makes me feel the way that you do,
Whenever I’m asked who makes my dreams real I say that you do,
(you’re outta sight).
Go to Get Ready lyrics.
Sunshine Of Your Love – Chords
This one guitar version of Sunshine Of Your Love is a combination of Creams original and Spanky Wilson’s cover.
Using the main riff as a starting point over this blues progression, the I chord has sometimes been extended to a dom7#9. The solo? We learn it note for note!
Go to Sunshine Of Your Love chords.
Sunshine Of Your Love – Lyrics
It’s getting near dawn, when lights close their tired eyes.
I’ll soon be with you my love, to give you my dawn surprise.
I’ll be with you darling soon,
I’ll be with you when the stars start falling.
Go to Sunshine Of Your Love lyrics.