domingo, 28 de agosto de 2011

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), also known as the "First Lady of Song" and "Lady Ella," was an American jazz and song vocalist. With a vocal range spanning three octaves (Db3 to Db6), she was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.
She is considered to be a notable interpreter of the Great American Songbook. Over the course of her 59 year recording career, she was the winner of 13 Grammy Awards and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.
Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia, the child of a common-law marriage between William and Temperance "Tempie" Fitzgerald. The pair separated soon after her birth and she and her mother went to Yonkers, N.Y, where they eventually moved in with Tempie's longtime boyfriend Joseph Da Silva. Fitzgerald's half-sister, Frances Da Silva, was born in 1923.

In her youth Fitzgerald wanted to be a dancer, although she loved listening to jazz recordings by Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and The Boswell Sisters. She idolized the lead singer Connee Boswell, later saying, "My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it....I tried so hard to sound just like her.
In 1932, her mother died from a heart attack. Following this trauma, Fitzgerald's grades dropped dramatically and she frequently skipped school. Abused by her stepfather, she was first taken in by an aunt [5] and at one point worked as a lookout at a bordello and also with a Mafia-affiliated numbers runner. When the authorities caught up with her, she was first placed in the Colored Orphan Asylum in Riverdale, the Bronx. However, when the orphanage proved too crowded she was moved to the New York Training School for Girls in Hudson, New York, a state reformatory. Eventually she escaped and for a time was homeless.
She made her singing debut at 17 on November 21, 1934 at the Apollo Theater. in Harlem, New York. She pulled in a weekly audience at the Apollo and won the opportunity to compete in one of the earliest of its famous "Amateur Nights". She had originally intended to go on stage and dance but, intimidated by the Edwards Sisters, a local dance duo, she opted to sing instead in the style of Connee Boswell. She sang Boswell's "Judy" and "The Object of My Affection," a song recorded by the Boswell Sisters, and won the first prize of US$25.00.

Fitzgerald married at least twice, and there is evidence that she may have married a third time. In 1941 she married Benny Kornegay, a convicted drug dealer and local dockworker. The marriage was annulled after two years.
Her second marriage, in December 1947, was to the famous bass player Ray Brown, whom she had met while on tour with Dizzy Gillespie's band a year earlier. Together they adopted a child born to Fitzgerald's half-sister, Frances, whom they christened Ray Brown, Jr. With Fitzgerald and Brown often busy touring and recording, the child was largely raised by her aunt, Virginia. Fitzgerald and Brown divorced in 1953, bowing to the various career pressures both were experiencing at the time, though they would continue to perform together.
In July 1957, Reuters reported that Fitzgerald had secretly married Thor Einar Larsen, a young Norwegian, in Oslo. She had even gone as far as furnishing an apartment in Oslo, but the affair was quickly forgotten when Larsen was sentenced to five months hard labor in Sweden for stealing money from a young woman to whom he had previously been engaged.
Fitzgerald was also notoriously shy. Trumpet player Mario Bauza, who played behind Fitzgerald in her early years with Chick Webb, remembered that "she didn’t hang out much. When she got into the band, she was dedicated to her music….She was a lonely girl around New York, just kept herself to herself, for the gig."[3] When, later in her career, the Society of Singers named an award after her, Fitzgerald explained, "I don't want to say the wrong thing, which I always do. I think I do better when I sing.

Already visually impaired by the effects of diabetes, Fitzgerald had both her legs amputated in 1993. In 1996 she died of the disease in Beverly Hills, California at the age of 79. She is buried in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. The career history and archival material from Ella's long career are housed in the Archives Center at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History while her personal music arrangements are at The Library of Congress. Her extensive cookbook collection was donated to the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University while her published sheet music collection is at the Schoenberg Library at UCLA.
In January 1935, Fitzgerald won the chance to perform for a week with the Tiny Bradshaw band at the Harlem Opera House. She met drummer and bandleader Chick Webb here. Webb had already hired singer Charlie Linton to work with the band and was, The New York Times later wrote, "reluctant to sign her....because she was gawky and unkempt, a diamond in the rough. Webb offered her the opportunity to test with his band when they played a dance at Yale University.
She began singing regularly with Webb's Orchestra through 1935 at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. Fitzgerald recorded several hit songs with them, including "Love and Kisses" and "(If You Can't Sing It) You'll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini)". But it was her 1938 version of the nursery rhyme, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket", a song she co-wrote, that brought her wide public acclaim.

Chick Webb died on June 16, 1939, and his band was renamed "Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra" with Ella taking on the role of bandleader. Fitzgerald recorded nearly 150 sides during her time with the orchestra, most of which, like "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," were "novelties and disposable pop fluff.
In 1942, Fitzgerald left the band to begin a solo career. Now signed to the Decca label, she had several popular hits while recording with such artists as the Ink Spots, Louis Jordan, and the Delta Rhythm Boys.
With Decca's Milt Gabler as her manager, she began working regularly for the jazz impresario Norman Granz, and appeared regularly in his Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) concerts. Fitzgerald's relationship with Granz was further cemented when he became her manager, although it would be nearly a decade before he could record her on one of his many record labels.
With the demise of the Swing era and the decline of the great touring big bands, a major change in jazz music occurred. The advent of bebop led to new developments in Fitzgerald's vocal style, influenced by her work with Dizzy Gillespie's big band. It was in this period that Fitzgerald started including scat singing as a major part of her performance repertoire. While singing with Gillespie, Fitzgerald recalled, "I just tried to do [with my voice] what I heard the horns in the band doing.
Her 1945 scat recording of Flying Home (arranged by Vic Schoen) would later be described by The New York Times as "one of the most influential vocal jazz records of the decade....Where other singers, most notably Louis Armstrong, had tried similar improvisation, no one before Miss Fitzgerald employed the technique with such dazzling inventiveness. Her bebop recording of "Oh, Lady be Good!" (1947) was similarly popular and increased her reputation as one of the leading jazz vocalists.
Perhaps responding to criticism and under pressure from Granz, who felt that Fitzgerald was given unsuitable material to record during this period, her last years on the Decca label saw Fitzgerald recording a series of duets with pianist Ellis Larkins, released in 1950 as Ella Sings Gershwin.

Verve Records was sold to MGM in 1963 for $3 million and in 1967 MGM failed to renew Fitzgerald's contract. Over the next five years she flitted between Atlantic, Capitol and Reprise. Her material at this time represents a departure from her typical jazz repertoire. For Capitol she recorded Brighten the Corner, an album of hymns, Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas, an album of traditional Christmas carols, Misty Blue, a country and western-influenced album, and 30 by Ella, a series of six medleys that fulfilled her obligations for the label.
During this period, she had her last US chart single with a cover of Smokey Robinson's "Get Ready", previously a hit for The Temptations, and some months later a top-five hit for Rare Earth.
The surprise success of the 1972 album Jazz at Santa Monica Civic '72 led Granz to found Pablo Records, his first record label since the sale of Verve. Fitzgerald recorded some 20 albums for the label. Ella in London recorded live in 1974 with pianist Tommy Flanagan, Joe Pass on guitar, Keter Betts on bass and Bobby Durham on drums is one of her best ever. Her years on Pablo documented the decline in her voice. "She frequently used shorter, stabbing phrases, and her voice was harder, with a wider vibrato," one biographer wrote. Plagued by health problems, Fitzgerald made her last recording in 1991 and her last public performances in 1993.
In 1993, Fitzgerald established the Charitable Foundation that bears her name: The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, which continues to help the disadvantaged through grants and donation of new books to at-risk children.

Ella Jane Fitzgerald (Newport News, 25 de abril de 1917 - Beverly Hills, 15 de junio de 1996), conocida como Ella Fitzgerald y apodada Lady Ella y The First Lady of Song (La primera dama de la canción), fue una cantante estadounidense de jazz. No obstante esta condición básica de jazzista, el repertorio musical de Ella Fitzgerald es amplísimo e incluye swing, blues, bossa nova, samba, gospel, calypso, canciones navideñas, pop, etc.
Junto con Billie Holiday y Sarah Vaughan, está considerada como la cantante más importante e influyente de la historia del jazz (y, en general, de la canción melódica popular). Estaba dotada de una voz con un rango vocal de tres octavas, destacando su clara y precisa vocalización y su capacidad de improvisación, sobre todo en el scat, técnica que desarrolló en los años cuarenta y que anunció el surgimiento del bop. En los años cincuenta sentó cátedra con su concepción de la canción melódica, en paralelo a la obra de Frank Sinatra, con sus versiones de los temas de los grandes compositores de la canción popular estadounidense (los songbooks de Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, etc.). El único reparo que se le ha puesto a su talento interpretativo es cierta incapacidad para adaptarse emocionalmente a letras con contenido dramático.
Ganó 13 Premios Grammy, y fue galardonada con la Medalla Nacional de las Artes y la Medalla Presidencial de la Libertad de Estados Unidos.

Nacida en Newport News, Virginia, EE. UU., creció en Yonkers, Nueva York, en una situación de pobreza permanente. Su padre, William Fitzgerald, conductor de tren, abandonó a su madre Temperance (Tempie) Fitzgerald, lavandera, cuando Ella era aún muy pequeña. Las dos se trasladaron a Yonkers (Nueva York), junto con el novio de Tempie, Joseph Da Silva, con el que tendría una hija en 1923, Frances Fitzgerald.
En 1932, la madre de Ella murió tras un grave accidente de tráfico. Tras estar con Da Silva durante un breve período, su tía Virginia se hizo cargo de ella. Poco tiempo después, Da Silva fallecería de un ataque cardíaco, por lo que Frances tuvo que irse también a vivir con Ella y su tía.
Este ambiente dramático condicionó el comportamiento de Ella, que tuvo frecuentes problemas con el absentismo escolar e incluso con la policía, lo que la llevó a ser internada en un reformatorio, de donde trató de escapar varias veces, así como de su casa.
Ya de pequeña gustaba de bailar y cantar en un club escolar y en el coro de la Bethany African Methodist Episcopal Church. Aprendió a tocar el piano, escuchó atentamente la radio y estudió todas la grabaciones que salían de Louis Armstrong y las Boswell Sisters.
En 1932 se trasladó a Nueva York para vivir con un tío y encontró un lugar en la State Training School For Girls de Nueva York, una especie de hospicio. Hacia 1934 lo abandonó.
Debutó como cantante a los 16 años, el 21 de noviembre de 1934,1 en el Harlem Apollo Theater de Nueva York, ganando el concurso Amateur Night Shows con la canción Judy, interpretada al estilo de su ídolo Connee Boswell. Tras una breve colaboración con la banda de Tiny Bradshaw, Ella consiguió entrar en la orquesta de Chick Webb, convencida por uno de los asistentes a las noches del Apollo: el reputado arreglista y saxofonista alto Benny Carter.
Comenzó a cantar con la banda de Chick Webb en 1935, en el Savoy Ballroom de Harlem. El crítico George T. Simon escribió en la revista Metronome en enero de 1936: «Aquí tenemos a la número uno de 1936... Ella Fitzgerald... la joya de 17 años que canta en el Harlem' Savoy Ballroom con la estupenda orquesta de Chick Webb con su gran aptitud natural para el canto... una de la mejores... no hay razón para pensar que no llegue a ser la mejor dentro de un tiempo». En 1937, la mitad de los temas de la banda contaban ya con la voz de Ella. Grabó una serie de éxitos con ellos, incluyendo If You Can't Sing It, You'll Have to Swing It, pero no fue hasta la grabación de su versión de la nana A Tisket A Tasket en 1938 cuando alcanzó directamente el estrellato. Durante esta etapa, Fitzgerald era esencialmente una cantante de pop y swing que daba lo mejor de sí en las baladas. Tenía ya una hermosa voz, pero ni improvisaba ni practicaba todavía el scat. Efectuó numerosas grabaciones con Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington y en solitario.

Cuando Chick Webb falleció en 1939, la banda continuó su gira bajo el nuevo nombre de, "Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Orchestra". Unos años más tarde, agotada del esfuerzo que suponía dirigir la orquesta y cantar a diario, disolvió la formación.
Comenzó su carrera en solitario en 1941. Cantó con the Ink Spots, Louis Jordan y The Delta Rhythm, y en 1946 empezó a cantar con regularidad en los conciertos de Norman Granz Jazz at the Philharmonic (JAP), convirtiéndose Granz en su manager. Un gran cambio se produjo en el estilo de Ella durante este período. Estuvo de gira con la banda de Dizzy Gillespie y adoptó el bebop como parte de su estilo, y comenzó a incluir fragmentos de scat en sus interpretaciones. Sus grabaciones de "Lady Be Good", "How High the Moon" y "Flying Home" durante 1945-1947 se hicieron muy populares y su estatura como una de las primeras voces del jazz se asentó. Durante un tiempo (10 de diciembre de 1947 - 28 de agosto de 1953), estuvo casada con el bajista Ray Brown, con quien adoptó un niño, y usaba su trío como acompañante. Las series de duetos con el pianista Ellis Larkins en 1950 y 1954 la hicieron interpretar composiciones de George Gershwin, como haría en uno de sus songbooks.
Tras aparecer en la película de 1955 Pete Kelly's Blues, Ella firmó por fin con el sello Verve de Norman Granz y durante varios años grabaría los famosos Song Books de los grandes compositores estadounidenses de música popular: Cole Porter, los Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern y Johnny Mercer. Aunque (con la excepción de los discos sobre Ellington) no fueron sus interpretaciones más jazzísticas (pues Ella se apegaba a la melodía e iba acompañada de una gran orquesta de cuerda), el resultado fue memorable. En 1960 graba su concierto en Berlín, que se convierte en su disco más importante para Verve.
Fitzgerald grabó para Capitol y Reprise entre 1967 y 1970. En sus últimos años, Fitzgerald volvió con Granz para formar parte de su nueva compañía, Pablo. Su colaboración comenzó con un gran concierto en 1972, el Santa Monica Civic concert, y siguió a lo largo de toda la década con discos orientados plenamente al jazz, cantando con Count Basie, Federico Parra, Oscar Peterson y Joe Pass, entre otros.
Ya ciega a consecuencia de la diabetes que padecía, en 1993 le fueron amputadas sus piernas, y un tiempo después fallecía en Beverly Hills, California.2 De ella, su compañero y amigo Duke Ellington dijo "Ella Fitzgerald está más allá de cualquier categoría". Sus restos se encuentran en el Cementerio Inglewood Park de Los Ángeles, California.

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