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Ella at 100

The classic jazz community is celebrating the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald, who was born on April 25, 1917. Fitzgerald, along with Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan, were the queens of American music during the middle part of the 20th century.

Here is a nice bio of Fitzgerald from a site dedicated to her. The site also lists 17 Ella-themed memorial concert events throughout the year. NPR offers an appreciation.

Two albums have been released by The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, Verve Label Group and UMe. The three, operating as Ella 100, last month released Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Books and 100 Songs For A Centennial. Other events, according to the press release, include an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Above is Lullaby of Birdland. Her band was one for the ages: Ray Brown (bass), Oscar Peterson (piano), Papa Jo Jones (drums), Herb Ellis (guitar) and Roy Eldridge (trumpet). Below is a beautiful duet with Louis Armstrong on Dream a Little Dream of Me.

Mental Floss offers 10 interesting facts about Fitzgerald, along with great photos. Also check out a famous clip of Fitzgerald driving home Mack the Knife. Watch her arm.


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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.