Author: Young, Herb
Date published: September 1, 2010
Rosemary Squires, Maxine Daniels & Barbara Jay
Ella Fitzgerald Songbook
Spotlite Jazz SPJ-CD556
Rosemary Squires, Maxine Daniels, Barbara Jay (vocals) Tommy Whittle (ts, cl) Brian Dee (pno) Jim Richardson (bs) Bobby Worth (dms); Rec. Greenford, Middlesex, UK, April 18 & 19, 1994.
A Tisket A Tasket / It Don't Mean a Thing / But Not for Me / They All Laughed / This Can't Be Love / Someone to Watch over Me / Soon / Everytime We Say Goodbye / A Foggy Day / That Old Black Magic / Miss Otis Regrets / Love for Sale / Taking a Chance on Love / Cheek to Cheek / Frim Fram Sauce / Ten Cents a Dance / Manhattan / Thou Swell / Looking for a Boy / A Fine Romance / How About You / Anything Goes / They Can't Take That Away from Me / I Concentrate on You / Dream Dancing / You Do Something to Me / Airmail Special / Mack the Knife TT: 78:36
Barbara Jay, Lee Gibson & Tina May
Ella Fitzgerald Songbook Revisited
Spotlite Jazz SPJ-CD565
Barbara Jay, Lee Gibson, Tina May (vcls) Tommy Whittle (ts) Steve Waterman (flghn) John Pearce (pno) Jim Richardson (bs) Bobby Worth (dms) Peter Churchill (an); Rec. Greenford, Middlesex, UK, June 26 & 27, 2000.
I Got Rhythm / Duke's Place / Lullaby in Rhythm / What's New / Close Your Eyes / Lil' Darling / Still We Dream / Lullaby of Broadway / Peel Me a Grape / I Only Have Eyes for You / When the Sun Comes Out / Some Cats Know / Lady Be Good / Perdido TT: 56:50.
This pair of CDs is a tribute, celebrating Ella Fitzgerald's 75 birthday. Originally a concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall, on London's Southbank, it was so successful that a national tour resulted. Spotlite Jazz owner Tony Williams had them re-work the concerts in the studio and this allowed Barbara Jay to better plan the performances and arrangements.
They start out with the three vocalists in harmony, swinging right out of the gate. Then you have various solos sprinkled throughout, giving a feeling of movement just the way a live presentation would do. The program keeps fresh, with vocal duets and instrumentalist solos as well. But of course it's mostly the singers in the spotlight. Close Your Eyes is the only strictly instrumental number on the two discs.
There are many highlights but perhaps my favorite is I Got Rhythm, on which the three ladies sing unaccompanied and each voice does a separate theme. The only way to describe it, besides hooting applause, is 'breathtaking' : one takes on Charlie Parker's Anthropology, another doing Thelonious Monk's Rhythm-a-ning while the third voice does Sonny Rollins' Oleo.
Nobody's coasting here. Tommy Whittle has been reviewed on these pages before and his tenor sax is sumptuous. His wife, Barbara Jay, swings just as richly. Although she's the only singer on both CDs, the five of them are game enough to do such a tribute show, yet not try to sound like Ella. Maxine Daniels' voice reminds me much of Rosemary Clooney, while Lee Gibson succeeds with a sultry serving, and Tina May, is both improve-endowed and winsome. The rhythm section great, as is the addition of flugelhorn on a few tracks.
To be honest, I do not wish to meet the person who doesn't dig these unusual CDs.