“Hearts For Ella”

November 18th, 2014

ella

Ella Fitzgerald, with Joe Williams, George Shearing and Oscar Peterson at the February, 1990 American Heart Association fund raiser, “Hearts for Ella”

_____

Toward the end of her life, Ella Fitzgerald, “The First Lady of Song,” faced several health challenges, most stemming from her battle with diabetes.  The effects of the disease resulted in the amputation of her legs, and famously contributed to the debilitation of her eyesight.  (Who can forget her frequent television appearances, when each successive performance seemed to bring new eye wear fashion and a more powerful eyeglass prescription).  But it was her respiratory ailments and congestive heart failure that brought some of the biggest names in jazz together for a fund raiser sponsored by the American Heart Association Avery Fisher Hall in February of 1990.  Hosted by Lena Horne and violinist Itzhak Perlman, “Hearts For Ella” featured a Benny Carter-led band that included Stan Getz, Jimmy Heath, Phil Woods, Slide Hampton, Clark Terry, Red Rodney, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan and Louis Bellson — an ensemble Carter called “a dream band.”  Ella also took a turn on the bandstand that night, singing “Honeysuckle Rose” and, as an encore (“We could do another one,” she told Carter) “Lady Be Good,” joined by Joe Williams and Clark Terry.

In the February 14, 1990 edition of the Chicago Tribune, Steve Futterman wrote about the famous evening:

NEW YORK — Ella Fitzgerald received her valentines early this year. As much an open mash note as a benefit concert, Hearts for Ella — Monday night`s all-star gala for the American Heart Association — was an unabashed exhibition of love.

Fitzgerald came to Avery Fisher Hall merely as an honored guest;supposedly she was going to sit this one out. A handpicked jazz band was there to serenade her, and a host of singers and instrumentalists were on hand to offer tribute. Each song in the three-hour performance was a gift. The results were as musically spectacular as they were heartfelt.

Click here to read the entire story

_____

To my knowledge, no recording or video exist of this event, so, here are a couple of pieces from Ella during that time period

“A House is Not a Home,” a 1990 performance

“Too Close For Comfort,” performed on a program honoring Sammy Davis, Jr.  (Seeing her escorted on to the stage by Michael Jackson is noteworthy)

Share this:

2 comments on ““Hearts For Ella””

  1. Ella was the absolute best in so many ways, her skippy-forever young voice, her courage in facing the most-terrible circumstances, her inborn knowledge of jazz, it was the same as breathing to Ella, and her connections to her listeners and to the human condition

  2. Ella was the absolute best in so many ways, her skippy-forever young voice, her courage in facing the most-terrible circumstances, her inborn knowledge of jazz, it was the same as breathing to Ella, and her connections to her listeners and to the human condition

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 22 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Chris Potter, Sons of Kemet, Stephan Crump, Brittany Anjou, Julian Lage, Joey DeFrancesco and Antonio Sanchez

Poetry

Seventeen poets contribute 21 poems in this month’s edition…

The Joys of Jazz

In new podcasts, Bob Hecht tells three stories; one about Miles Davis’ use of space in his music, one on the mutual admiration society of Sinatra, Lady Day, and Lester Young, and the other about the train in jazz and blues music.

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art

Art

“Thinking about Ida B. Wells” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #126

In 1964, along with the orchestra of arranger Lalo Schifrin (pictured), this flutist/alto sax player recorded one of the first “Jazz Masses,” and soon after studied transcendental meditation in India. He would eventually become well known as a composer of music for meditation. Who is he?

Great Encounters

Dexter Gordon tells the story of joining Louis Armstrong’s band in 1944, and how they enjoyed their intermission time.

Art

In this edition of Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light,” photographs of Red Garland, Dizzy Gillespie and Rahsaan Roland Kirk are featured.

Short Fiction

"Strings of Solace," a short story by Kimberly Parish Davis

Interviews

Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Short Fiction

"And so we went to Paris," a short story by Sophie Jonas-Hill

Coming Soon

National Book Award winning author for non-fiction Jeffrey Stewart is interviewed about his book The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

In the previous issue

The question “What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?” was posed via email to a small number of prominent and diverse people, and the responses of Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who participated...Also, the publication of the winning story in our 50th Short Fiction contest; an interview with Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell; a collection of jazz poetry; two new podcasts by Bob Hecht; the March edition of "On the Turntable," and lots more...Click here to be taken to the issue.

Contributing writers

Site Archive