People were up in arms when saxophonist Kenny G played with the great Louis Armstrong posthumously through the wonders of technology. Today people are using the same ability to resurrect old recordings for much more noble purposes such as this, which features Ella backed by the London Symphony Orchestra on several tracks. They never recorded together; rather, the music on this CD features Ella stripped of previous backing tracks with the orchestra dubbed in. So seamless is the end result that when I listened to the CD for the first time, I was convinced that these were unreleased recordings that existed in this form and not a result of digital trickery.
The end result is late period Ella, still in fine form, with an orchestral backing that replicates the classic recordings from decades earlier with arranger/composer Frank DeVol. It's nice to have new tracks that sound remarkably similar to the singer's classic recordings.
As an added bonus we get a handful of recordings with pianist Andre Previn, a few with guitarist Joe Pass, and one with Count Basie's band. All are fantastic. The recordings with Pass are a particular revelation; not enough credit is given to this guitar master and his ability to tastefully back singers with appropriate comping and tasteful solos (the duo even gets the London Symphony on one track, a glorious example of juicing up the tracks of two deceased masters).
This release is a joint venture between Starbucks and Concord Records. While no substitute for the classic recordings, it's nice to have new Ella recordings to enjoy.
Personnel: Ella Fitzgerald: vocal; The London Symphony Orchestra; Andre Previn: Piano; Joe Pass: guitar.