Today marks the birthday (4/25/1917) of one of my all-time favorite female jazz vocalists, EllaFitzgerald. Nearly forty years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing/hearing The First Lady of Song (as she was fittingly known) when she was appearing in San Francisco at a time I happened to be there. Her performance that night confirmed what I’d dug from decades of collecting her records and listening to her sing and interpret lyrics as only she could.
Ella, my musical muse and soulmate in song, for all the ‘spiritual’ pleasure you brought (and continue to bring) me and countless other fans over the years, this post is….
Like the Lady said at the start, the only thing better than singing is more singing (especially when It’s Wonderful singing):
I first got hooked on (and continue to love) Ella’s feel for a song as the ‘girl’ vocalist with Chick Webb’s Band in the mid-to-late 1930s. Even before reaching stardom, there was little doubt she meant it when she expressed….
….and then she became the band’s BIG attraction when her rendition of A-TISKET, A TASKET became a #1 hit in 1938. Later in her career, Ella’s vocals evolved into more of a scat-singing style, but I didn’t scat from evolving with her and echoing….
Wait — don’t scat! Stay where you are and let scat come to you — scat singing, that is — and who better to lay the scat on you than two of the best: Mel Tormé, whose birthday (9/13/25) we celebrate this month, and the First Lady of Scat, Ella Fitzgerald:
Man, if that didn’t knock your socks off, you’d better put your shoes on and scat back to Squaresville, because you’re just not with it! To say scat singing is little more than vocal jazz improvisation with nonsense words is like saying The Donald is just improvising when he lets loose with nonsense tweets (to use a reverse perverse metaphor).
So, who was the cat who ‘invented’ scat? There seems to be no definitive answer, but some say it began 2/26/26 when Louis Armstrong supposedly forgot the words to this song and began improvising a little more than halfway through the recording:
Let’s wrap it up with this recent scat-iteration (which, I kid you not, ends with tweets):
Man can indeed make lemonade out of lemons, but is just as prone to do the reverse — for example, when a relationship turns sour. Such is life, my son. Wait a minute….I don’t have a son. Anyway — whoever you are, nowhere is love-gone-wrong more poignantly expressed than in rainy regrets captured in song, as rendered here by three of the most expressive singers in popular music history:
In my previous post last week, I might have asked Mother Nature this question:
Finally, it is right as the rain that the last of our three songs be sung by the one and only Ella Fitzgerald, who was born on this day (April 25, 1918):
NOTE: Stormy Weather was composed by Harold Arlen, who also composed the 1944 show tune Right as the Rain and many other all-time standards.
Now that NATIONAL BIRD DAY (see previous post) has come and flown, it’s time to transition from birds and bird song to love and love songs, in preparation for February 14 (VALENTINE’S DAY, aka ‘Woe To Guys Who Ignore It Day’). Let us begin the béguin*, boys and girls, by gauging your romantic wherewithall with this simple question:
*French for flirtation
Assuming that dealing with This Thing Called Love leaves you Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (and, if it doesn’t, you must be either a robot or a Republican), I suggest getting back to basics, starting with having that Old Fashioned Love in your heart:
Relationships are like music: it’s essential to hit the right notes, but man does not live by instruments alone. For example, without lyrics, the title to the above song might just as well be Yabba Dabba Doo. Here is the same song sung with sweet words of undying love:
I hope that the above is starting to get you guys in a romantic frame of mind. With little more than a month left before V-Day, I have only six more posts to fill your hearts with enough good old-fashioned love to pass muster with your SO. So, mister, rest assured I will work Night And Day to ready you to be in the I’m In The Mood For Love spirit.
On this day, *ahem* years ago, mistermuse (aka my dad) was born. And so to mark this auspicious occasion, I have compiled a list of little known facts about his life. There are many things we already know about mistermuse – he’s a reader, writer, thinker, jazz aficionado and classic movie buff, and today, in honor of his birthday, here are ten things you didn’t know about the man who aMUSEs us all!
His grandfather came from County Clare, Ireland and could “talk the blarney”. Perhaps this is where mistermuse got his way with words.
As a boy he traded his set of original Superman comics for a BB gun. At least he didn’t shoot his eye out!
He worked for the same company his entire career, starting out in the mailroom and working his way up. How many can say that today?
He met my mom through a “computer dating service” – a newfangled thing in the 60’s. His first matches weren’t so hot and he was going to give up the experiment after his sixth and last match. Thank goodness my mom was the sixth and not the seventh!
When I was five years old he brought home a pet for the family in a cardboard box – no, it wasn’t a puppy, it was a duckling! For the next ten years we had a duck waddling around in our suburban backyard.
In his travels, mistermuse has visited eight countries (Canada, Mexico, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland), all fifty US states, and has taken pictures of covered bridges in every state that had one.
He retired at age 50 with a nice early retirement package and then worked for a couple of years as a building security guard. His favorite part of that job was getting to watch TV while working.
Mistermuse has a sneeze with a decibel level high enough to set off our doorbell sensor. Thankfully, he has not yet blown down the house.
He was always a devoted son and cared for his mother for the last 11 years of her life while she lived with our family.
He is the best dad I could ever ask for. 🙂
So now you know ten more things about mistermuse than you did before and I hope you all enjoyed reading it too.
Happy Birthday, Dad!
As poet I can’t compare – your wit’s sharpened on a strop,
but if Daddy I’m the bottom, you’re the top!
My gig this time around is to do homage to old-fashioned jazz by way of verse, starting with musing about what impact jazz would have had on Shakespeare had it prospered in 1920s-30s fashion during his lifetime. And so, without further ado….
GOTTA WRITE TO SING THE BLUES
What would William
have done with jazz?
Would he take jazz
where no one has?
it, he accost?
Would he find jazz
love’s labour lost?
Would he have played
measure for meas-
ure, or hell bent?
Or would he have
a vocalist been –
the ‘King of Sing’
of noted men?
No! Peerless bard,
writer of wrongs –
If you dug jazz….
you’d write the songs.
to say it
You never knew where Ella
would go with the next note….
and even when it would be
the note you thought it would be,
it would surprise, because how could
it be what you thought it would be?
So it is, with the real greats –
before they got jazz, jazz got them.