March 1998

Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie - Ella and Basie!
Verve/Polygram 314 539 059-2
Originally Released: 1963
Remastered Released: 1997
Uses 20 Bit Technology

by Jay Piriz

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

[Reviewed on CD]This wonderful performance was recorded in New York City on July 15 and 16, 1963, 25 years ago. The musical selections, all well-worn standards, were arranged by the incomparable Quincy Jones. This is indeed an elegant compilation of music which has, since its release, undoubtedly inspired the foundations of many jazz greats. The big, powerful 18-piece Count Basie orchestra complements the silky smooth, golden-voiced scattings of Ella Fitzgerald with poise and style on more than a few selections. The liner notes indicate that this recording was the first time that the ideal union of a big-band singer and big band occurred in the recording studio. It is a masterpiece.

This remaster of the original recording has been meticulously restored through application of high-resolution 20-bit digital transfer. The result is a lifelike character in the music and the vocals that is crystal clear, dynamic and satisfying. On this CD, the depth and width of the soundstage are impressive, accurately accommodating in spatial proportions and dimensions, all the musicians, and Ms. Fitzgerald. Although Ella’s voice and selected instruments can be located on the stage with pinpoint accuracy, backup-horn sections have correspondingly proper placement behind the featured instrument.

Most of us have only enjoyed the beautiful song "Dream a Little Dream of Me" as performed by the late Mama Cass Elliot. Hearing this same song on this CD is a virtual first-time experience. It is a delight. The extra studio takes, complete with mistakes, at the end of the CD are also a treat. This CD is a beautifully recorded and remastered work that belongs in any audiophile’s music library.

I hear that quantities of this remastered CD are limited. I feel fortunate to have gotten my own copy. Ella and Basie arranged by Quincy Jones—it doesn’t get much better.