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Reviewed by Carol Lovatt
The music of Ella Fitzgerald remains as popular as ever for lovers of jazz and for all those who appreciate real quality and substance in a singer. It is hard to imagine that she would have been 100 this year had she lived. It was in the 1930s swing era and later, the 1940s genre of beboppers that Ella really made her name, having her first hit in 1938 with “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” as part of the Chick Webb ensemble and it was during this period that her distinctive melodic and smooth charm really started to develop. Ella Fitzgerald was a true virtuoso not just a gifted interpreter. Her voice was a jazz instrument in itself and her career spanned six decades so it is hardly surprising in this commemorative centennial year that the multi-award winning jazz guitarist Martin Taylor and the internationally recognised vocalist Alison Burns are touring the UK with a warm and heartfelt celebration of a true musical legend.
Last night, at the New Victoria Theatre, on the opening night of this tour, the audience were treated to a really authentic and intimate concert with a beautifully parred down minimalist set where Taylor and Burns recreated the unique sound of Ella’s 1960’s duo recording with guitarist Joe Pass. It was very up close and personal and a pure delight to experience. With classics on offer such as The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else, You Took Advantage Of Me, I’ve Got The World On A String, I’m Just A Lucky So and So, My Old Flame, Oh, Lady Be Good, They Can’t Take That Away From Me and Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, to name but a small sample, the show proved to be a true reflection of the wonderful repertoire of Ella’s past catalogue with the Scottish-Canadian Burns paying a classy and stripped back homage to the legend. Alongside Martin Taylor, an incredible guitar maestro, Burns seamlessly synchronises into one beautiful rendition after another and together, they are an impressive duo who work effortlessly combining pitch perfect clarity of voice with the most exquisite guitar playing to be heard on the jazz circuit. Burn’s voice is mellow, sultry and emotive and coupled with the sublime instrumentalism from Taylor, the duo deliver an impressive concert, engaging from start to finish and a must see for any lover of Ella and jazz.
Touring nationally and internationally until November 2017, with some dates already sold out, Celebrating 100 Years of Ella Fitzgerald is as close to a real Ella concert you are likely to get and definitely a show not to be missed. Superb.
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