Jeff Lindberg’s Exquisitely for Ella: A Songbook Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald

Aug. 30 - 2012

Imagine how much poorer songwriterdom would be without Ella Fitzgerald’s popular  songbook albums. Dedicating an entire recording to a single composer or composing team is common practice now, but when the First Lady of Song recorded her 1956 classic, Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, no one was doing that sort of thing. With Ella’s Rodgers & Hart, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer in the “books,” the country had a new appreciation for tunesmiths. “Songs that had been pigeonholed as show tunes or jazz novelties or faded relics of Tin Pan Alley had become American classical music, the property and pride of everyone,” wrote New York Times columnist Frank Rich.

In honor of what would have been Fitzgerald’s 95th birthday, three of Chicago’s best-loved singers – cabaret queen Spider Saloff, freewheeling jazz singer Dee Alexander and swinging traditionalist Frieda Lee – will join forces with Jeff Lindberg and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and a 17-piece string section in a survey of Ella’s songbook albums. This won’t be the first staging of “Exquisitely for Ella,” but in this spectacular setting and with  new numbers worked up for the occasion, it promises to be the most special. Now in its 34th year, the CJO has distinguished itself with its innovative arrangements; you’ll never hear it indulge in the rote recreations of other repertory bands.

Tonight’s event caps this year’s Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz series and launches the outdoor portion of the Chicago Jazz Festival.



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