I remember listening to this shit in a room full of young and talented jazz students. Hearing them argue, break down, and decipher each second off this album was similar to overhearing a group of NASA scientists explaining differential equations. I understood close to nothing. Yet, the music still made sense. It didn’t feel overly complex or sophisticated. But what the fuck do you expect? This is the First Lady of Song with Duke Ellington. These two perform miracles like others lose loose change. Shit just kinda happens. As the album continued to play, the conversations went from respect, explanation, elation, and straight into thick fucking depression. The first sad crash came from the singers. Them listening to too much Ella is like going blind from staring into the sun. After Dizzy Gillespie played a solo the brass players sank deeper into their seats. Oscar Peterson flexed some chops and pianists slumped. Then came the bassists, the drummers, the guitarists, and a single violinist. After the album ended a thick silence filled the room. “What’s the fucking point?!” one of them finally said. You catch that? This album is so fucking good it’s been making motherfuckers go straight existential for over 50 fucking years.
This album will make you feel like you were born in the wrong decade. You’ll end up dressing better, fucking better, dancing better, and the room will fill with a pleasance that just isn’t made anymore. I was gonna recommend Ella’s entire songbook series that clocks in at over 900 hours, but it’s over 900 fucking hours. Plus this specific series has something the others don’t. This is Lady Ella, the First Lady of Song, with the Duke, Edward Kennedy Ellington, and some of the greatest musicians of the era at the peak of their technical proficiency. If you haven’t heard this then you’re missing a hunk of the human experience. Never been haunted by Ella? Check out the track, “Solitude” and you’ll be fucked for life. “Rockin’ In Rhythm” has scatting skills so slick it’s fucking skating. This shit is full of joy, sentiment, and intimacy. Recorded back in ’57, this album will continue to change lives long after we’re dead. It’s timeless. It can be put on anytime. It transcends generations and age. You can jam to this shit with your grandma. This is pure fucking perfection and it deserves to be recognized.