Ella Fitzgerald – Twelve Nights in Hollywood – Hip-O Select [4-CD set + bound book] B0012920-02 Disc 1: 60:25 – Disc 2: 53:24 – Disc 3: 75:21 – Disc 4: 62:32 ****:
(Ella Fitzgerald, vocals; Lou Levy, piano; Herb Ellis, guitar; Wilfred Middlebrooks, bass; Gus Johnson, drums; Paul Smith, piano; Stan Levey, drums)
Unearthed by jazz scholar Phi Schaap, the full tapes of Ella Fitzgerald’s shows at The Crescendo club in Hollywood in 1961 and ’62 are a marvelous collection of songs from one of jazz’s most joyous singers. Previously, the Crescendo shows could only be heard in truncated form on the 1961 twelve-song LP Ella in Hollywood, but now with the arrival of the Twelve Nights in Hollywood 4-CD box set, you can hear every song from Ella’s 10 day engagement at the Crescendo, along with a bonus 1962 show at the same club.
For those intimidated by the sheer amount of songs in the set (75!), Disc 1 is a perfect encapsulation of the whole thing, with Ella singing a perfect mix of melancholy ballads (Little White Lies, Lover Come Back to Me, Baby Won’t You Please Come Home, But Not for Me, Round Midnight), swinging trifles (Across The Street from the Alamo, Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive), and sexy smokers (My Heart Belongs to Daddy, I’ve Got a Crush On You). It also features many charming between-song moments from Ella, like her asking the stage manager for "sexy light" before she sings I’m Glad There is You and her joking that the audience keeps "defeating" her urge to sing a ballad.
Disc 2’s highlights include a cute rendition of Blue Moon in which Ella hits a very high note on "Blue-ooh-hoo-hoo," a spirited De-Lovely, and a jaunty Give Me The Simple Life. Disc 3 features wonderful versions of This Could Be the Start of Something Big, It’s All Right With Me, and the gorgeous, haunting Deep Purple, which is performed with only the accompaniment of guitarist Herb Ellis. After singing This Could Be The Start of Something Big, Ella spots songwriter Mack David in the crowd and attempts to sing his song "Candy," but unable to remember the words, she ad-libs rhymes, the funniest being "Wish I had the lyrics handy…" [Ella was even better when she didn’t remember the words…Ed.]
Disc 4 contains a delightful version of Hard Hearted Hannah, a giddy C’est Magnifique, and a lusty Angel Eyes. It also features one of the few missteps of the entire set, a version of Good Morning Heartache that pales in comparison with Billie Holiday’s.
The sound quality of the set is overall quite good, though there a still some imperfections left over from the original recording, like a crackling sound on I Can’t Get Started from Disc 2 and a slight clicking noise on In The Wee Hours of Morning from Disc 3. Gus Johnson’s drums on Discs 1-3 sound amazing, especially his snare drum. The recording also captured a certain amount of crowd chatter, and at one point, while Ella is singing the melody of Round Midnight a capella, you can hear a man shush someone talking during her solo.
Twelve Nights in Hollywood captures both the infectious charm and technical brilliance of Ella Fitzgerald, as well as the rapport she had with her public. It’s rare to hear a live recording that so perfectly records a performer’s joy in performing.
Disc 1: Introduction, Lover Come Back to Me, Too Close for Comfort, Little White Lies, On the Sunny Side of the Street, Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive, Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home, I Found a New Baby, On a Slow Boat to China, My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Perdido, I’ve Got a Crush on You, But Not for Me, You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me, Across the Alley from the Alamo, I’m Glad There Is You, ‘Round Midnight, Take the ‘A’ Train, Mr. Paganini (Mono Version)
Disc 2: Nice Work If You Can Get It, I Can’t Get Started, Give Me the Simple Life, Caravan, One for My Baby, Lorelei, A-Tisket, A-Tasket, Witchcraft, Gone with the Wind, Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe, It’s De-Lovely, The Lady Is a Tramp, That Old Black Magic, Lullaby of Birdland, Ella Introduces the Band, Imagination, Blue Moon, Joe Williams’ Blues
Disc 3: The Lady’s in Love with You, Love Is Here to Stay, Come Rain or Come Shine, Anything Goes, This Could Be the Start of Something Big, Candy, Little Girl Blue, You’re Driving Me Crazy, It’s All Right with Me, Just Squeeze Me (But Please Don’t Tease Me), ‘S Wonderful, How High the Moon, Deep Purple, In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning, Mack the Knife, Exactly Like You, Rock It for Me (Mono Version), Stompin’ at the Savoy (Mono Version), Love for Sale (Mono Version), St. Louis Blues (Mono Version)
Disc 4: All of Me, Hard Hearted Hannah, Broadway, My Kind of Boy, It Had to Be You, C’est Magnifique, How Long Has This Been Going On?, When Your Lover Has Gone, Taking a Chance on Love, Good Morning Heartache, Clap Hands! Here Comes Charlie!, Hallelujah I Love Him So, Angel Eyes, Ol’ Man Mose, Teach Me Tonight, Medley: Too Darn Hot/Ella’s Twist, Too Darn Hot, Bewitched, Bill Bailey, Bill Bailey Reprise)
— Daniel Krow