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Music

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered: Listen to incredible audio of Ella Fitzgerald from 1956

@TomTaylorFO

Ella Fitzgerald’s output is something that could stump The Riddler—how can something be so timeless and yet such a visceral time capsule? Her wistful tones will forever ease a morning into motion, oozing with the scent of rich brews, and the gentle sway of cosy café culture. In short, she remains the coolest contemporary voice that you could lull a blue bottle fly into a state of contented composure to, but she also harks back to the smartly sartorial past in the most pleasantly romanticised way.

‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’ is an old show tune from the 1940 Rodgers and Hart musical Pal Joey. The musical follows the trials and tribulations of Joey Evans, a nightclub performer who ends up having an affair with a wealthy woman. Based on John O’Hara’s short stories which first appeared in The New Yorker, there’s plenty of lamppost swinging, starry sky thinking and noir overtones to colour this Broadway tune beyond its black and white aesthetic. 

In 1956, Fitzgerald teamed up with the Buddy Bergman Orchestra for a truly special rendition. Comprised of Paul Smith on piano, Barney Kessel on guitar, Joe Mondragon on bass, and Alvin Stroller softy brushing away on the drums, Bergman’s orchestra had some of the finest musicians of the era in its ranks. However, Fitzgerald’s feathery tones will always be the star of the show. 

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Retrospect might have you thinking that she was drowned in a hushing reverb, but when you pore over her charismatic croon, the treacly treasures of her natural sound become clear. Earthy and guttural yet without an ounce of harshness, she remains as she always will, one of the greatest singers of all time, and truly befitting of the title The Queen of Jazz. 

As she said herself, “I stole everything I ever heard, but mostly I stole from the horns”. And that statement was ratified by Arthur Fiedler who once opined, “Ella’s voice becomes the orchestra’s richest and most versatile sound.” And even her contemporary Frank Sinatra quipped, “The best way to start any musical evening is with this girl. It don’t get better than this.”

Well, I might add to that myself and say that never mind a musical evening, Ella Fitzgerald is just about the perfect way to start a day and the oozing beauty of ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’ is a testimony of that. You can see for yourself below. 

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