USA Verve/UMe to Reissue Ella Fitzgerald's 'Mack the Knife: Ella In Berlin' and Jimmy Smith's 'Root Down: Jimmy Smith Live!' on 180-gram Vinyl LPs -- Available June 24
Verve/UMe to Reissue Ella Fitzgerald's
Mack the Knife: Ella In Berlin and Jimmy Smith's
Root Down: Jimmy Smith Live! on 180-gram Vinyl LPs
Available June 24 as Part of
Verve's 60th Anniversary Celebration
Verve/UMe is proud to announce, as part of Verve's 60th anniversary celebration, new vinyl reissues on June 24 for two long unavailable live performance classics by a pair of jazz legends--the peerless Ella Fitzgerald's Mack The Knife: Ella In Berlin and funk-master Jimmy Smith'sRoot Down: Jimmy Smith Live!.
Originally released in 1960 and 1972 respectively, the albums display a
high level of creativity from a pair of jazz masters. Though serving
different audiences, the recordings are linked by exuberance,
spontaneity and profound substance, hallmarks of jazz expression.
Recorded in front of an enthusiastic Saturday night audience in Berlin's Deutschlandhalle, Mack The Knife
vividly demonstrates Ella Fitzgerald's unparalleled improvisational
vocal artistry. With her regular quartet at the time--pianist Paul Smith, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Alfred Middlebrooks and drummer Gus Johnson--the
albums swings furiously. While emphasizing as usual the Great American
Songbook - "Gone With The Wind," "The Lady Is A Tramp," "The Man I
Love," "Summertime," "Too Darn Hot," "Misty" and "Lorelei" - Mack The Knife
culminates in brilliant, extended excursions on Kurt Weill's title
piece and a breathtaking, scat-singing romp on "How High the Moon."
Unplanned as a recording, this
performance was serendipitously immortalized when Fitzgerald's
manager/producer and visionary Verve label founder Norman Granz allowed
WDR, West German Radio, to record and broadcast the performance. The LP
was a major hit, peaking at No. 11 on Billboard magazine's 200
albums chart and becoming a landmark in the legacy of live jazz vocal
artistry - the album that, out of many Ella classics, has maintained her
undisputed position as the First Lady of Song for more than 80 years
since she exploded onto the scene with Chick Webb in 1935.
Jimmy Smith, after almost
singlehandedly redefining the Hammond B3 organ as a vital hard-bop
instrument in the 1950s, then ushering in the Soul Jazz era a few years
later, signed with Verve in 1962. At Granz's label Smith embarked on
several journeys, including a deeper R&B context, remarkable
orchestral collaborations with Oliver Nelson and two extraordinary
pairings with the legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery. But it was his
live performances that captured the unmistakable late-night, down-home
aura of the organ joint.
On Root Down: Jimmy Smith Live!,
recorded at L.A.'s Bombay Bicycle Club, Smith is surrounded by a
stellar ensemble of musicians who ably straddled the worlds of classic
jazz and blues and contemporary funk and rock. All heavily in-demand,
first-call players for both recording and touring, they played with a
veritable who's who of top R&B/Soul/Jazz artists including Marvin
Gaye, Diana Ross, the Jackson 5, Isley Brothers, Herbie Hancock and Les
McCann. With guitarist Arthur Adams, electric bassist Wilton Felder (at the time also the saxophonist in the Crusaders), drummer Paul Humphrey, percussionist Buck Clarke and Steve Williams on harmonica, the band and Smith dive into a smoking deep-funk groove.
Root Down revitalized
Smith's reputation as a prime master of jazz funk and became a
touchstone for a new generation. Avery Parrish's iconic 1940 blues
"After Hours" and "Let's Stay Together," a No. 1 hit for Al Green at the
time, both get ultra-funky re-imaginations alongside balladeer Peter
Chase's "Everyone Under the Sun" (written for this album), a couple of
Smith compositions based on his sign of Sagittarius--"Sagg Shootin' His
Arrow" and "Slow Down Sagg"--and most notably "Root Down," which
reemerged as a prominent sample on the Beastie Boys' track of the same
name on their 1994 album Ill Communication. Root Down is simultaneously being made available in high-resolution digital audio (192kHz/24-bit and 96kHz/24-bit). (Mack The Knife: Ella In Berlin is currently available in the same high-resolution formats.)
Whether one is a devoted fan of
Ella Fitzgerald or Jimmy Smith, exceptional live jazz recordings or
just wonderful music, these two albums are a must.