Ella Fitzgerald, “Twelve Nights in Hollywood”

This 4-CD collection is a real gem unearthed from Verve’s vaults — 73 previously unreleased live small-group recordings from the “First Lady of Song.” In some cases these are the first and/or only live versions of the songs she ever recorded. This is Ella at the creative peak of her career.

Verve founder Norman Granz personally supervised the live recordings over 12 nights in 1961 and 1962 of every set Fitzgerald performed with her quartet in the intimate setting of Los Angeles’ Crescendo Club.

This collection finds Ella ranging through her entire repertoire from the familiar to the obscure, including new versions of her earliest hits (“A-Tisket, A-Tasket”) and those of her peers Billie Holiday (“Good Morning Heartache”) and Frank Sinatra (“The Lady is A Tramp”).

And there’s the spontaneity and humor ever present in Ella’s live performances — whether she’s messing up the lyrics to “Blue Moon” without skipping a beat or affectionately imitating Louis Armstrong and Dinah Washington on “Bill Bailey.”

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