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Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: The Complete Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong on Verve

Here is an instruction manual for singers. Phrasing, intonation, breath control, taste, musicianship, restraint, humor; it’s all here. What with “jazz singing” wandering all over the lot as the century staggers to a close, let’s hope that The Complete (what dimensions that phrase has in this context) Ella and Louis will be used for serious course work, and not just by beginners.

The package contains everything from the LPs Ella & Louis, Ella and Louis Again and Porgy and Bess, plus two tracks of Fitzgerald sitting in with Armstrong’s band at the Hollywood Bowl. The contrast between her polished perfection and his rough perfection is delicious. Armstrong’s trumpet playing, nearing its last full burst of glory, is as moving as his voice.The songs are by the cream of American song writers, including Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Arlen, Ronnell, Duke and Kern. They have never been sung better.

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