MP3 Ella Mae Morse - Ella Mae Morse On Broadway
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17 MP3 Songs in this album (50:28) !
Related styles: Jazz: Jazz Vocals, Jazz: Big Band, Type: Vocal
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Ella Mae Morse (September 12, 1924 â October 16, 1999) is one of the most under-rated singers of the golden age of American music. A hit-maker by the age of 18 (âCow Cow Boogieâ), she recorded prodigiously through the 1950âs. She was one of the few band singers to incorporate both jazz and country music into her style (Kay Starr also comes to mind).
Most current biographies speak of Morseâs âcharted hitsâ and her â50âs covers of R&B songs. Sheâs praised for her contribution to the development of Rock & Roll whose popularity, ironically, would drive her kind of music out of fashion.
Although Morse excelled as an interpreter of jazz and classic American pop songs, she had little chance to prove it during a recording career that ended in 1957. Only a couple dozen jazzy sides and one LP of standards survive.
Just listen to the 1947 recording of âOn the Sunny Side of the Streetâ. Youâll hear jazz singing every bit as joyous and swinging as the âotherâ Ella, Fitzgerald. Note the subtle play on rhythm in her 1957 version of âYou Go to My Headâ that brings ironic depth to the lyrics.
This new collection, released more than 50 years after her last Capitol album, was recorded toward the end of her career. It provides more proof that Ella Mae Morse was a phenomenal, warm and swinging jazz singer.
Ella Mae Morse On Broadway
It is often stated that Ella Mae Morse could sing anything--jazz, swing, blues, ballads, country and eventually even rock and roll (which she personally detested)--but that her unique versatility was what prevented her from becoming a huge superstar in any one genre. Perhaps thatâs true. What she did have, however, was her own unmistakable sound--and thatâs what made her a true success in every field she conquered. When you heard an Ella Mae Morse record--whatever type of music--you knew it was Ella Mae Morse.
That same distinct style and personality could be heard in her live performances as well. She didnât need tricks or gimmicks on any of those great Capitol recordings--just good music--and thatâs also what she delivered on stage.
I first met Ella Mae in the early 1980âs. She was going through a rough time, temporarily estranged from her husband and struggling to make ends meet. Her career was basically in shambles and she was working as a saleslady at Sears. She had made her last record in 1957, when she was only 33, and rarely appeared in public except for her annual gig at Disneyland with Ray McKinleyâs band.
What hadnât changed was her spunk and sense of humor. She immediately won me over and I secured her a booking at the popular Vine St. Bar and Grill in Hollywood. The next step was finding musicians who were equally-adept at playing all of Ella Maeâs various styles, but that seemingly-impossible task turned out to be easy when the legendary Gerald Wiggins and Red Callender jumped on board along with their world-class drummer Paul Humphrey. Ella Mae didnât need charts--she could just call out âGive me some bluesâ and theyâd be off and running.
She continued to appear regularly at Vine St. (including a special all-star benefit night that raised money to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her idol Billie Holiday) and also headlined at the Hollywood Rooseveltâs Cinegrill and other popular clubs around town. But there was one show that stood out above all of them.
A club called the âOn Broadwayâ in Santa Monica was doing a showcase night of young unknown comics and had booked Ella Mae as the eveningâs headliner. The audience was packed, mostly with friends and relatives of the other performers and few, if any, were even born when Ella Mae had her biggest hits.
They saw this middle-aged white woman who they had never heard of come out on stage with a black trio behind her, not knowing what to expect, but from the first few bars of âTainât What You Doâ the place exploded.
She followed with two of her classic Capitol hits--âDown the Road Apieceâ and âHouse of Blue Lightsâ--and they were enthralled. The more they screamed and cheered, the more Ella Mae delivered and it became a true lovefest. The show was a mixture of other hits like âMr. Five By Five,â â40 Cups of Coffee,â âMoney Honeyâ and of course âCow Cow Boogie,â mixed with great jazz and blues standards and such unexpected torch ballads as âSend in the Clowns,â âHello Young Loversâ and âThe End of a Love Affair.â
The other element that bound it all together and made it truly memorable was Ella Maeâs unmatched wit and gift for storytelling. Her anecdotes about working with Johnny Mercer, meeting Duke Ellington for the first time at a party or receiving encouragement from Mabel Mercer, were spellbinding.
I had luckily brought a little portable cassette recorder with me and stuck it in front of one of the speakers, hoping to have a souvenir for myself. While the sound was far from perfect, it became and has remained one of the two or three most-favorite recordings in my entire collection. It wasnât meant ever to be released, but it captures Ella Mae during her later years in peak form, and is her only live recording, other than a few radio airchecks from the 1940âs.
Listen as she takes the audience with her on a captivating journey and experience with them the magic that was Ella Mae Morse.
Recorded 2/2/1985 at Club On Broadway, Santa Monica, California
Ella Mae Morse, vocals
Gerald Wiggins, piano,
Red Callender, bass,
Paul Humphrey, drums
in partnership with CDbaby
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