By Will Friedwald, The Cityview

Celebrating Ella Fitzgerald

Natalie Douglas Tributes: Ella
Birdland
315 West 44th St
Monday January 20 (7PM)

For information and reservations, please click here:

Natalie Douglas’s long-running “Tributes” series is handily-described as a win-win situation, a double whammy. Ms. Douglas is not only a fantastic singer, she’s equally impressive when she combines the roles of entertainer (“Hi kids!”), comedian (“I know!”) and historian into an highly-palatable package. Her tribute shows include the expected signature songs but also many worthy rarities from the catalogs of the canonic artists being celebrated, as well as delectable factoids both personal and historical – and often lots of relevance to issues of civil rights and social justice. Her salute to Ella Fitzgerald will include a rather amazing rarity, a song by the First Lady herself, written in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, titled “He Had a Dream,” which has thus far only been issued on a rather poor-sounding live tape from July 1968. I can’t wait to her Ms. Douglas sing this – we need its message now more than ever.

“Ella Fitzgerald sings the George & Ira Gershwin Songbook.”
Film Forum
209 W Houston Street
Monday January 27 (two shows, 2:20PM & 6:40PM)

For information and reservations, please click here
And here.

Ms. Fitzgerald herself is the featured attraction at Film Forum one monday later, via a program of clips compiled and presented by myself, drawn from a wide range of mostly television appearances drawn from both American variety shows and European concert footage. The great Fitzgerald did no less than three Gershwin songbook albums, the most famous of which is the epic five-disc, 60-song masterpiece package with Nelson Riddle’s Orchestra. These live performances also feature a spectacular line-up of co-stars, starting with Riddle himself but also including such peers of the Great Lady as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Count Basie, and Duke Ellington. When we first presented this program in honor of the First Lady’s centennial three years ago, it completely sold out, and that’s highly likely to happen again, so it’s best to procure tickets in advance.

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