Recorded Jul 15, 1963 - Jul 16, 1963, New York City
Arrangements By Quincy Jones
Surprisingly enough this 1963 LP was the first time (other than a couple songs) that Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie recorded together. The matchup was so logical that it would be repeated many times over the next 20 years. Fitzgerrald sounds fine and, even if Quincy Jones's arrangements did not give the Basie musicians much space for solos (two songs do feature a bit of trumpeter Joe Newman, trombonist Urbie Green and Frank Foster on tenor), this is an enjoyable effort. Highpoints include "Honeysuckle Rose," "Them There Eyes" and "Shiny Stockings."
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
========= from the cover ==========
"Ella is the swing swinger"!
"Basie is the swing band in jazz"!
Any self respecting recording producer given those two premises would logically say, "fine, let's record the two of them together." But, such is the illogic of the music business that these two artists have never made an album together. (There was one recording marriage when each won first place in the Metronome poll, but it only lasted a few minutes.)
The truth of it is that although Miss Fitzgerald is the best swinger of the singers in pop or jazz music today, she nevertheless has had a tendency recently to do more ballad material, and to use arrangements that complement such material, than she has had to do pure swing / jazz product. Conversely, Count Basie, though he never left the realm of doing primarily blues material with his band, has had a tendency to suffer from the repetitiousness of this material, and one might almost say, from the disadvantages inherent in keeping a band with virtually the same personnel for a long period; i.e., in the absence of great soloists, precision was substituted for drive. Each, one might almost say, needed the other, and the catalyst for both was Quincy Jones, the arranger. Quincy, a trumpeter-turned-arranger, with a background of such swing bands as Lionel Hampton's, completely understood the strength of the Basie band and wrote to it, and at the same time gave Ella enough leeway to do more than just swing: to display also her talents for jazz improvisation.
The material for the most part is all familiar and good and standard, but rather than being a liability, it turned out to be an advantage, because being tried and proven it required only the interpretive talents of the artists involved.
Shiny Stockings, which was done years ago by the Basie Orchestra, was written by the tenor star of the band, Frank Foster, and the lyrics were written by that well known ASCAP writer, Ella Fitzgerald.
My Last Affair, written by Haven Carter, should interest the devotees of jazz, that is to say anyone who went with any regularity to the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem in its prime and heard the Savoy Sultans play this number. They don't, to use a lamentable cliche, "make this kind any more."
Them There Eyes and Dream A Little Dream of Me were recorded in this album by the small group, which comprised the Basie rhythm section, Urbie Green on trombone, Joe Newman on trumpet and the aforesaid Frank Foster. Them There Eyes, a "head" arrangement, enabled Ella to do some bar-trading with the three horns. Dream A Little Dream of Me gave us a chance to hear the rarely heard Basie organ.
I think those fans who recall fondly Ella's version of Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall with the Ink Spots will be in for a shock, a pleasant one I hope, when they see how she treats it this time.
In any case, I submit it's refreshing that this land of an album has been recorded today in the welter of nonsense that unfortunately has found wide acceptance - and who knows, it might bring some people 'round to swing again.
- Norman Granz