SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – “Ella and Louis;” “Ella and Louis Again” – Verve/ Universal Pure Audio Blu-ray

Well over an hour with two of the greatest voices ever in jazz, in the ultimate fidelity.

Published on December 29, 2013

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – “Ella and Louis;” “Ella and Louis Again” – Verve/ Universal Pure Audio Blu-ray

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – “Ella and Louis;” “Ella and Louis Again” (TrackList follows) – Verve/ Universal Pure Audio Blu-ray 00602537439807, 72 min. (DTS-HD, Dolby TrueHD, or PCM – all 96K/24-bit stereo) *****:

(Ella Fitzgerald, vocals; Louis Armstrong, vocals and trumpet; Oscar Peterson, piano; Herb Ellis, guitar; Ray Brown, bass; Buddy Rich, drums (1st session); Louis Bellson, drums (2nd session))

When two of the top names in jazz got together for an album at Capitol Studios in Hollywood in August of 1956, it created such a hit for Verve Records that they returned again the next year for the second popular album together. Both sessions were produced by Norman Granz, and are here paired up for a tremendous no-compromise hi-res album. We’re lucky that although this was made before the stereodisc (1958) Verve still mastered some sessions in stereo and not mono.

Ella was the most popular female jazz singer in the U.S. for over a half century, selling over 40 million albums. Louis was considered one of the founders of jazz, and was known around the world as Satchmo. He had toned down his earlier whooping and shoveling sort of delivery a bit, but it’s still the same old Satchmo. The two perform 30 of their favorite songs together on this Blu-ray, in a musical match made in heaven. The Great American Songbook is the source of most of the tunes, and their delivery shows the world just how these songs should be sung. The accompaniment by the top-rated quartet of musicians is just perfect and doesn’t cover up the two singers with overdone orchestral arrangements.

The sequence of the original tracks on the LPs is followed here, and all the tracks from the second album, which was a double LP, are included. It’s interesting that Universal decided not to remix the original analog stereo tapes into 5.1-channel surround for DTS or Dolby multichannel options. It’s just the closest fidelity to what was heard in the studio originally, without any gimmickry. Although DTS and Dolby hi-res are lossless codecs, the very best sonic choice of the three is clearly the PCM stereo tracks here, again eschewing all the gimmickry and getting back to the high quality audio of the original analog tapes. Inside the package is a card which gets you a free digital download in either FLAC Lossless or MP3 format.  Again, never mind that it says “High Fidelity” on the front—in the ‘60s an indication that the album was mono and not stereo—and also the hype about “no compression.” Compression is used on just about all recorded music.


Ella And Louis
1. Can’t We Be Friends?
2. Isn’t This A Lovely Day?
3. Moonlight In Vermont
4. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
5. Under A Blanket Of Blue
6. Tenderly
7. A Foggy Day
8. Stars Fell On Alabama
9. Cheek To Cheek
10. The Nearness Of You
11. April In Paris
Ella And Louis Again
12. Don’t Be That Way
13. Makin’ Whoopie
14. They All Laughed
15. Comes Love
16. Autumn In New York
17. Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)
18. Stompin’ At The Savoy
19. I Won’t Dance
20. Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good To You?
21. Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off
22. These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)
23. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
24. Willow Weep For Me
25. I’m Puttin’ All My Eggs In One Basket
26. A Fine Romance
27. Ill Wind
28. Love Is Here To Stay
29. I Get A Kick Out Of You
30. Learnin’ The Blues

—John Henry

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