January 7

Some years back, maybe 1998? I was scrounging through the vinyl at the local thrift store in Great Falls, Montana. There was the usual schlock, Mantovani, 101 Strings, that Firestone Christmas album that is at every. Single. Thrift. Store. In. America! And then…


A shiny, near perfect sleeve of the the 1962 Verve LP – Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson. Now, finding a 30+ year old cardboard cover that isn’t completely torn up on the edges is rare. Finding the cover with a like new copy of the album in it is almost impossible! Yet there it was…

The Verve record label showed no wear, not even the telltale “swirly” where an unsteady handler had searched for the turntable center post and missed. The vinyl used in the pressing on some of these older records has a different feel than newer LPs, rigid, glossier, almost wet looking. And heavier too! This thing was more akin to the feel of an old 78 than a modern 33 1/3. Here’s a photo of the record on my Denon TT:


The recording quality on this album is superb, quality hi-fi stereo and really transports you back in time. It sounds like 1962! This album netted Ella the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance by a Female at the Grammy Awards (the 5th annual Grammy Awards… this was Ella’s 7th award).

The 12 tracks are mostly familiar swing tunes from the era, but the standout track for me was the Rodgers and Hammerstein penned “The Gentleman is a Dope”. Ella’s voice on all tracks rang like a bell, the Riddle arrangements were tight and upbeat. I feel lucky to have rescued this LP from history’s dustbin. (or did it rescue me?)

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