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Ella Fitzgerald


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Table of Contents

* Prologue * 19171930 * 19311935 * 1935 * 19351938 * 19381942 * 19421946 * 19461947 * 19471949 * 19491952 * 19521955 * 19551957 * 19571959 * 19601966 * 19641972 * 19721978

About the Author

Stuart Nicholson's books include Jazz: The 1980s Resurgence (also available from Da Capo /Perseus Books Group) and Billie Holiday. He lives in England.


For his exhaustive biography, Nicholson ( Jazz: The Modern Resurgence ) draws on written accounts of the legendary singer and on interviews with her childhood friends and musicians who have worked with her; he was unable to arrange to talk with Fitzgerald herself. The result is a thorough, dispassionate account of a career that began in 1935 when, at age 17, the singer first appeared in New York City's Apollo Theater and the Harlem Opera House. Nicholson shows how Fitzgerald was advanced by Milt Gabler at Decca and by promoter Norman Granz; he follows the grueling schedule to which she subjected herself and provides lucid analyses of her style and place in the history of jazz and 20th-century popular music. Although there are accounts here of her continuously unhappy love life, Fitzgerald's personality remains obscure, possibly a reflection of a performer to whom nothing other than singing seems to really matter. Discography by Phil Schaap. Photos not seen by PW. (May)

Ella Fitzgerald's hit song ``A-Tisket, A-Tasket'' grabbed national attention in 1938, and over the next three decades she won much popular and critical acclaim. Born in poverty, she rose to perform at Carnegie Hall, becoming wealthy and well liked. Nicholson discusses Fitzgerald's musical influences, places her in the context of swing and bebop, and discusses her career highlights, including the Songbook albums. But he also bemoans the many silly songs she recorded to achieve wide sales and discusses her lack of depth compared with Billie Holiday. A 61-page discography by jazz historian Phil Schaap is said to include previously unknown recordings. Although this biography joins at least four others (some in German), it seems well researched and is recommended for general collections.-Paul Baker, Wisconson Ctr. for Education Research, Madison

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