The time is 1975 - the place is Baltimore, Maryland. Appearing live and in
person in nearby Owings Mills - The Count Basie Band and Ella Fitzgerald. My wife
Sandie and son Max are with me as we book the best seats we can get. Ella had only recently recovered from being
ill and she had lost a lot of weight. The Count was getting on in years too.
Therefore his movements were a little slow and deliberate. The music ranged from Pops, to Swing, to
Jazz and it was obvious the group enjoyed and respected each others' performance.
Ella never sounded better as she glided through the the songs and music that
night. The Basie Band sound was smooth and subdued when Ella sang, but stepped out and strutted when they performed solo. There was several
centuries of musical experience performing up there on stage and it showed.
It was special - not like a symphony or a ballet, but more like watching an
old loving couple dance. Each anticipated and understood the others' moves and
moods resulting in a visual and musical joy. I can not remember exactly what they sang and played, but
how they played. It was a night to remember, for sure. We were sorry the performance comes to
an end, but leave happy to have been part of a happening.
The next morning we awake and go down to breakfast at the Cross Keys in
Baltimore. Our son, Max, had gone down ahead of us a few minutes earlier. Ella Fitzgerald was a guest at the same hotel and was finishing breakfast.
Max introduced himself and told Miss Fitzgerald how much he enjoyed her performance the previous night. She was as gracious off-stage as she was
on-stage and remarked that she was pleased that people of his age (then 15) enjoyed her music.
Recommendations - start with Best of Songbooks-The Collection. Listen to
virtually anything Ella has recorded. Enjoy the freedom and lushness of her
voice. The wonderful unbeatable range from low to high notes. Do not be
selfish... listen with a close friend.