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Ella Fitzgerald: 1917-1996
Ella Fitzgerald: 1917-1996
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ELLA: A Selected Discography

This listing was prepared by Will Friedwald for the forthcoming Da Capo press edition of Jazz Singing (coming in Fall 1996). Hopefully all worthwhile Ella CDs, available as of January 1996, are included. Not included are sleazy pirate issues, counterfeits and K-Mart budget items, etc. Undoubtedly, many Ella memorial albums will be issued before 1996 is over. Updates, additions and corrections to the listing are welcome, just e-mail them to All opinions expressed are strictly the author's. (WF)


75th Birthday Celebration (Decca Jazz 619) is a beautiful sampler of the first 20 years of her recording career, selected by Milt Gabler, who produced many of the original dates.

Like many another major Afro-American artist of the '30s, her works of this period (with Chick Webb, Teddy Wilson, her Savoy Eight, her Famous Orchestra and Benny Goodman) have been collated most completely once again on the Classics label:

  • Ella Fitzgerald, Vol. 1 1935-'37 (500), with Webb and her own Savoy Eight
  • Vol. 2 1937-'38 (506) and
  • Vol. 3 1938-'39(518), both with her own post-Webb orchestra on
  • Vol. 4 1939(525) and
  • Vol. 5 1939-'40(566).

American Decca has also so far issued three doubles of early Ella, which are neither complete nor can they be called highlights either (they're almost complete, omitting only the occasional track that the producer didn't like, such as "Melinda the Mousie"):

Also: Pure Ella contains two LPs worth of superlative duos with the great pianist Ellis Larkins. It is absolutely essential.

And last but not least: Ella: The Legendary Decca Recordings (Decca Jazz 648), a 4-CD set released in 1995.


First the songbooks:

Live Sets:

Concerts from the Verve years issued by companies other than Verve:

    Ella Fitzgerald & Jazz At The Philharmonic, Stockholm 1957 (Tax 3703) and two with Duke Ellington from their 1966 tour, Live at the Greek Theatre, Los Angeles 1966 (Status DSTS 1013, UK) and The Stockholm Concert (Pablo 2308-242).



Ella and Great Arrangers:

Other Verve albums:

Verve Samplers:

    Start with First Lady Of Song (Verve 517 898, 3 Cds), as a basic, 75th birthday sampler of the entire Ella-Norman Granz experience (there's also a one-CD sampler of highlights from this three-CD sampler, if you're not sampler'd out already).

Compact Jazz has four Ella entries:

More samplers:

Miscellaneous '60s & Early '70s:

At one point Capitol had all of their bafflingly undistinguished Ella albums on CD:

Reprise has both Things Ain't What They Used To Be on one disc (Warner 26023-2).

And Columbia's two-volume Live at Carnegie Hall, 1973 was available on two single discs from CBS France (466 547-2 & 466 548-2) or one double set from Japan (CBS/Sony 50DP-565/566), and, most recently and most satisfyingly as a double from American Columbia (C2K 66809). Also features the reunions of both the Chick Webb Orchestra and the Jazz at the Phil all-stars, as well as Ella's splendiferous final team-up with the great Ellis Larkins. (Easily the most recommended release of this entire period.)

Pablo (currently available from Fantasy Records):

Essential Ella albums not on CD

Miss Ella Fitzgerald and Mr. Gordon Jenkins Invite You To Listen and Relax, her all-time finest collection of "big" ballads with strings; Whisper Not, a stunning cool jazz set from 1964 (update: Released November 2006); JATP: The Ella Fitzgerald Set, stellar concerts from 1949 to 1954 (update: Vol. 15 released October 2006); and Lullabies of Birdland, an authoritative assemblage of Fitzgerald's scat masterpieces, including "Flying Home," and "Lady be Good." Four decades later Birdland remains the greatest collection of vocal improvisation ever compiled (update: Released November 2006).

Additional Discography Information

This is by no means a complete discography. Ella released some 250 albums during her phenomenal career, an output far surpassing any other female performer's, and second only to Bing Crosby in terms of the the number of recordings released by a popular artist.

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