[JPL] Ella Tribute - TV tonight

Marty/Community Communications soulonline at commcom.com
Wed Jun 6 11:37:52 EDT 2007

Hi Friends --

Thought you'd enjoy this well-written piece by David Hinckley of the NY Daily News on a tribute to Ella set to air on PBS tonight.  My favorite observation:  "The greatest tribute to Ella is that those songs are still sung."  That really speaks volumes to Ella and her profound talent.  Well said!  

Marty Sonnenfeld
Community Communications


Ella Fitzgerald gala: Scat's entertainment!  


Posted Wednesday, June 6th 2007, 4:00 AM 

WE LOVE ELLA: A Tribute to the First Lady of Song. 8 p.m. Wednesday. Ch. 13

A tribute concert for Ella Fitzgerald is by definition a tribute concert to the Great American Songbook, because that, after all, is where she lived.

This PBS special, filmed in April in Los Angeles with Natalie Cole and Quincy Jones as emcees, does a splendid job with both Ella and the songs.

It doesn't diminish any of the fine performers on this stage to say this special's peak moments are the vintage clips of Ella, who died in 1996 at the age of 79.

We see her only in bits and pieces, but it's hard to imagine a combination that would top Ella singing "Lady Be Good" with Duke Ellington.

It doesn't happen here, which may just reinforce the point that, "American Idol" notwithstanding, good music is rarely framed as a competition.

When Nancy Wilson sings "Someone to Watch Over Me," it's just good music. The same when Patti Austin sings "How High the Moon" or Take 6 bops into some Ella-style scatting.

Perhaps the best measure of the evening's success is that almost every singer elevates his or her own game.

In a very smart move by producers Phil Ramone, Gregg Field and Mitch Owgang, the show kicks off with Wynonna ripping through an animated uptempo version of "Ain't Misbehavin'." This gets the whole joint on its feet and also immediately reminds the TV audience that Ella didn't just sing lovely ballads. We may know her best from the "Songbook" records, in which she cherry-picked songs from the likes of Ellington and the Gershwins, but she sang a lot of songs for the pure fun of it.

Not every performance scales the mountain. Ruben Studdard's "Do Nothing 'til You Hear From Me" is not exceptional, as he tries a little too hard for the attitude Ella exuded with no apparent effort at all. But Stevie Wonder shines, and just to hear a show filled with songs like "Blues in the Night" and "Cry Me a River" is worth the time in front of the TV set.

The greatest tribute to Ella is that those songs are still sung. Great vocalists find the things in songs that make them timeless, and that's how the songs live on.

Ella Fitzgerald would have turned 90 on April 25. Her music has no age.

dhinckley at nydailynews.com

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