Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald! On an mp3 collection I have: Sings Gershwin; with Louis Armstrong; Rogers & Hart Songbooks. Plus a cassette of 30 by Benny Carter (so far unreleased in any other format). What can one say about this timeless singer. Adventurous and yet classic jazz at the same time. Her recordings with Louise Armstrong are amazing – their voice trade off so well – romantic, sexy & humorous. Their take on Porgy & Bess is wonderful.

She seems to have recorded non-stop, even her sleep, as she worked through song books of the great Broadway composers. Shows that she never would have been cast yet & she makes each song her own.

On this cd I’ve included work by her contemporaries: Rosemary Clooney: Ring Around Rosie with the Hi-Lows: this is an amazing set, the Hi-Lows’ arrangements are so campy at time I’m left breathless & one hears where groups like Manhattan Transfer got their best ideas. The song are energetic & fun. Her voice is clear as a bell.

Plus some Peggy Lee: Beauty & the Beat with George Shearing, Fever: a ‘hits’ collection. The Shearing is a live nightclub performance & listening to it one is right there sipping an extra dry martini. Fever is a selection of her 50’s work & leaves no doubt as to why she was revered. Very different from Fitzgerald or Clooney, she does some of the same songs but man, they are different songs in her hands.

Finally Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown & Beige featuring Mahalia Jackson. Two versions of it – the studio recording & a live take. Jackson has another of those monumental voices but she rarely sang ‘pop’, even her work here is more gospel & her reputation comes from her gospel recordings. A force of nature that draws even a cynic like me into the glory of the word.

A Mazed

‘How do like your room?’

‘It’s fine. Nice view of the Eldritch Enclosure.’

‘Ah yes. That north side is worth the extra steps.’

‘Extra steps?’

I hurried to keep up with Caliban. For a short guy he walked faster than my long legs could carry me.

‘Oh yeah. Didn’t you notice? That side of the dorm is about half a floor higher. Thanks to the Corner System.’

‘Oh great. Now I have to watch out for the corners’ too?’

‘Bright girl like you should have no trouble.’

‘Thanks. I guess.’

‘Sure. Well, here we are …’

We stopped at the edge of the Griswill Quad. Several students walked in large and small circles in front of us. I look at Caliban.

‘Maze meditations, Sycorax. There’s a new maze laid down in the grass every other week. Gives us a chance to focus and move. Very relaxing.’

‘I’m sure.’

‘Oh no, you’re not. No one is sure till they’ve tried it.’

‘Can’t be any worse than the Celtiric Labyrinth at Black Rock.’

‘You’ve been there?’

‘Last summer. The folks thought it was time to see what latent ability I had.’

‘How long did it take you.’

‘Just under an hour.’ I wasn’t going to tell him it took me nearly twelve hours. Not yet.


He was as impressed as I knew he would be.

‘Then you’ll find this one child’s play. Start here.’


‘First day here everyone has to go through at least one of the five mazes. I’ll wait for you at the other side.’

I swallowed hard and looked at the gentle pattern in the folded grass. Once I stepped on to it I felt the slight breeze of the Form rustle my hair. The Form meant that I could not step back, step off, or step over. I would have to follow through to the end.

I moved ahead quick. I knew hesitation would change the pattern. As long as I kept turning to the left whenever I could I’d be fine. As long as I remember which way was left. Small curves in the grass spun me around and I found myself passing the start point more than once. I took a breath and stopped.

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Tuesday – September 19 – feature – Art Bar Poetry series – 8 p.m., Free Times Cafe, #20 College At., Toronto – $5.00http://It’s No Accident


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