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Various Artists - We All Love Ella

Released on Verve Records, 6/05/07

We All Love Ella (and we all do) is a marquee studded vocal tribute to none other than Ella Fitzgerald, one of the finest, greatest legends from the Big Band Era. Dubbed as "the first lady of song", her legacy has been long recognized with thirteen Grammy awards and sold over forty million albums.

There have been countless tribute albums but We All Love Ella is invariably special. The icon list includes Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Gladys Knight, KD Lang, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan, Linda Rondstant, Michael Buble, Queen Latifah, Hank Jones, Lizz Wright, Nikki Yanofsky, and Bay Area’s own, Ledisi. With so much talent to work with, the magic goes nuclear with one of the most prolific record producers, Phil Ramone, who oversaw most everything on this album.

With five decades worth of unmatched musical acumen notched under his belts (he definitely has a few of them), and numerous awards and accolades to boot, Ramone has to make more room on his wall for this Grammy worthy album. He had help, however, charging music producer alums by way of John Boylan, George Massenburg and Tommy LiPuma.

Packed with a dearth of great jazz tunes, We All Love Ella boosts the swingy, joyful, upbeat songs by Ella Fitzgerald. The interpretations generally stay true to the original concept except for the undeniable mark of the artist’s vocal stamp. One magical spell that deserves a play over and over again is KD Lang’s bitter sweet boozy vocals on “Angel Eyes".

Also unforgettably timeless is Stevie Wonder’s duet with Ella singing “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” recorded live in New Orleans in 1977. An up and coming enormously gifted thirteen-year old named Nikki Yanofsky from Montreal scats like an old pro herself on the last song of the album. This young wonder keeps in key and breath with a feverish take on “Airmail Special”.

We All Love Ella is a super shine of superiorly polished production of our beloved lady of song. The feel of the record is majestic and, regrettably, not every song is stardust but worth the listen for the decadent history that it’s derived from. Gladys Knight’s turn on the classic, “Someone To Watch Over Me” is sub standard. While The Pips’ leading lady still anchors her soulfulness on this song, the arrangement goes modern 80s (think Barbara Streisand), thus taking away the remarkable guilty pleasure of self-mourn that this definitive jazz standard secures. Here it lacks the theme of the enchantment that permeates the rest of this tribute collection.

If you do love Ella and we all do, We All Love Ella will do you.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars