On Oct. 8, Mosaic Records, as part of the label’s 30th anniversary celebration, will release The Complete Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald Decca Sessions (1934-1941), an eight-CD set comprising 187 tracks (three of which are previously unreleased in any format). The set includes both pre-Ella material dating back to 1929 and 59 tracks of Fitzgerald’s recordings with both the full band and smaller ensembles that remained together for two years following Chick’s untimely death in 1939.
Of the 13 pre-Ella tracks, five were recorded for Brunswick and Vocalion during the years 1929 through 1931. All of Fitzgerald’s early hits are included, among them “Sing Me a Swing Song,” “You’ll Have to Swing It (aka Mr. Paganini),” “Darktown Strutter’s Ball” and “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” There are also two tracks featuring Ella with the Mills Brothers in acappella renditions of “Big Boy Blue” and “Dedicated to You.”
Sidemen featured on the set include Louis Jordan, Benny Carter, Taft Jordan, Bobby Stark, John Kirby, Hilton Jefferson, Wayman Carver, John Trueheart, Mario Bauza, Pete Clark, Chauncey Haughton, Garvin Bushell and Edgar Sampson (who was also the band’s full-time arranger). Others like Ram Ramirez and Eddie Barefield joined in the post-Webb years when the ensemble became known as Ella Fitzgerald and Her Orchestra.