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Duante Beddingfield

Host - Equinox

Duante Beddingfield, a Dayton native, formerly served as jazz writer for both the Dayton Daily News and Dayton City Paper, has booked jazz musicians for area venues such as Pacchia, and performs regularly around the region as a jazz vocalist with musical partner Randy Villars; Beddingfield and Villars were the final jazz headliners to play Dayton's legendary Gilly's nightclub. A writer by trade, he also has a long history of volunteer and nonprofit work that support the Dayton community.

Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947
William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

Ella was always at her finest when in company with Duke Ellington and his orchestra, and this 1957 outing from Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook captures every entity involved at peak form.

Ellington sets the tone with some boozy barroom piano, followed by a weeping, wailing solo by Johnny Hodges on alto and some fiery shouting and moaning from Cat Anderson on trumpet before Ella's entry. Her soulful reading sways perfectly over the dark hues of the band's slow groove.

Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947
William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

One of Ella Fitzgerald's biggest strengths was her formidable skill with scatting, and so it seems necessary to demonstrate that right out of the gate.

To those who don't understand it, scatting may just sound like formless, random gibberish with no connection to the music happening around it, but it's really just the vocal version of an instrumental solo wherein the singer improvises vocals around the chord structure of the song. In that sense, it's no different from a sax or guitar solo.

Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947
William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song, was born 101 years ago today. Beloved around the world as not just America's foremost jazz vocalist, but perhaps the premier interpreter of The Great American Songbook, Ella won 13 Grammy Awards and has sold over 40 million albums.

Every day for the next 101 days, I'll be sharing a recording from her six-decade career and discussing its context among her catalogue and, occasionally, among music history.

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