Various Artists - We All Love Ella (2007)

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    Ella Fitzgerald is undoubtedly one of the greatest treasures in American musical history.  Her voice was agile, wide-ranging, precise and ageless - truly making her "The First Lady of Song."  Whether she was serenading us with a sultry ballad, mesmerizing through sweet jazz, or imitating one of the many instruments her voice could emulate, Ella always delivered.  She worked with musical greats from Duke to Basie, King Cole to Sinatra, just to name a few.  Ella's voice not only won the hearts of millions of American fans, but her voice was cherished around the world.

     It is admirable that, on what would have been her 90th birthday, famed producer Phil Ramone assembled some of the leading vocalists of our time to pay tribute to a musical great.  We All Love Ella is a sincere and genuine project that would have indeed made Ella proud and at the same time reminds the listener of a wonderful legacy "The First Lady of Song" continues to bestow upon fans old and new.

    We All Love Ella is a 15 track homage by a group of highly respected and diverse vocalists.  Michael Buble, Natalie Cole, Etta James, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, K. D. Lang, Ledisi, Queen Latifa, Dianne Reeves, Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Wonder, and Lizz Wright all use their musical talents to celebrate Fitzgerald's capacious musical legacy.  You can hear the sincerity and respect each vocalist extends to this special tribute.  And while not every vocalist delivers the type of performance these classic songs command, there are a number of terrific cuts.  The album opens with Natalie Cole performing "A-Tisket, A-Tasket."   Cole is clearly in her element with this genre of music. You can hear the fun she is having with this song as well as the sizzling duet with Chaka Khan on, "(If You Can Sing It) You'll Have to Swing It (a.k.a. Mr. Paganini)."  Dianne Reeves delivers an enchanting and fresh interpretation of "Oh, Lady Be Good," while Liz Wright offers a haunting rendition of "Reaching for the Moon."  Newcomer, Ledisi is truly the highlight of this project.  Her sound vocals on "Blues in the Night" will definitely make you hit the repeat button several times.  The duet between Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," which was recorded live in 1977 in New Orleans, captures a rare phenomenon of two musical geniuses together on stage.  While listening to Ella's vocals on this duet, it is easy to understand why We All Love Ella.  As an added bonus, 13 year old Nikki Yanofsky gives an amazing performance of "Airmail Special."

    Although there is no topping the first lady of song, We All Love Ella offers a versatile mixture of vocalists from R & B, jazz, blues, and pop making this special tribute rousing and unique.  We All Love Ella is a fine choice to add to your summer listening.   Highly recommended

    By Steve Riggs