“Ella and Basie: The Perfect Match ’79,” is another DVD in the “Norman Granz Jazz in Montreux” series. Released during 2004 under the Eagle Vision label, it’s fine example of this meeting of musical forces. Behind Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) were the Count Basie Orchestra and the Paul Smith Trio, coming on the heels of her recent album collaboration with that trio.
Although this disc was billed as “Ella & Basie,” Count Basie (1904-1984) didn’t appear until about 55 minutes into this 73-minute concert. The piano duties were primarily relegated to Paul Smith (1922-2013).
Clearly, Ella was the star of this show, which was filmed at the Montreux Casino. Boy, did she put out! At age 62, her vocal powers showed scant signs of aging and her instrument was put through its paces across a wide range, singing and scatting. Near the end of this disc, she traded forces with the Basie trombonists and tenor saxophone players. Her voice still had that wonderful “girlish” quality that I liked so much; however, I’d never seen or heard her perform in such a broad range of styles in a single show. Funny as this might sound, if anything, Ella’s voice sounded more “powerful” than in her heyday, during the 1940’s and 1950’s. She appeared to have fun with Basie’s ensemble which was so famous for its ability to “swing.”
As usual, Jazz historian and critic, Nat Hentoff (1925-2017) provided an informative introduction to this disc, and the bonus features included a portrait of impresario Norman Granz (1918-2001), as well as photos and drawings of famous Jazz artists.
This DVD was a great pairing and should be essential viewing for Ella Fitzgerald fans.