SPOTLIGHT ON THE DELTA RHYTHM BOYS - PART TWO OF THREE
(FEATURING ELLA FITZGERALD)
"I'm Gettin' Mighty Lonesome For You"/
"I'm Beginning To See The Light"/
"It's Only A Paper Moon"/
"For Sentimental Reasons"/
Above: An early photo of Ella Fitzgerald.
Above: Ella Fitzgerald And Her Four Keys. The Four Keys backing Ella on Decca consisted of (L-R) Bill Furness, vocals/piano; Ernie Hatfield, drums; Slim Furness, vocals/guitar; and Peck Furness, vocals/bass. The above picture is from the Detroit Free Press dated October 7, 1942 "Ella Fitzgerald and the Four Keys, in song and rhythm harmony, are the stars of Bowery show this week".
Above: The Four Keys, also known as The Keys, Furness Men, and Furness Brothers. (L-R) Bill Furness, Ernie Hatfield, Slim Furness, and Peck Furness.
Above: The Ink Spots (Back L-R) Billy Bowen, Cliff Givens (with cello), Bernie Mackey, (Front) Bill Kenny. This is their line-up from October 1944 to March 1945. Both sides of our featured Decca 23399 were recorded on February 26, 1945.
Above: Delta Rhythm Boys (Top) Lee Gaines, Rene DeKnight, (Center) Carl Jones, (Bottom) Traverse Crawford, Kelsey Pharr.
Above: Delta Rhythm Boys from the cover of The Billboard dated July 27, 1946. (Top) Lee Gaines, (Middle L-R) Carl Jones, Rene DeKnight, Kelsey Pharr, (Bottom) Traverse Crawford.
Above: Ella Fitzgerald And The Delta Rhythm Boys (L-R) (Top) Traverse Crawford, Ella Fitzgerald, Lee Gaines, Carl Jones, (Bottom) Kelsey Pharr, and Rene DeKnight. It seems as though Carl is reaching behind Lee to grab his head in this "informal picture".
Picture is from the CLEVELAND CALL AND POST, November 2, 1946:
Shown smiling in the above informal picture are six of the grooviest stardusters on the rhythm horizon today. The Delta Boys and Ella Fitzgerald have teamed together on some of the finest recordings released in the past few years. Notable among these are their smooth jobs on "For Sentimental Reasons" and "It's A Pity To Say Goodnight" soon to be released by Decca. The Deltas (Traverse Crawford, Kelsey Pharr, Lee Gaines, Carl Jones, and Rene DeKnight) are also riding the crest of the radio waves what with appearances on two of the nation's top commercials [radio networks] weekly, they have definitely hit the jackpot. PS You can hear 'em on both the Joan Davis Show and Amos N' Andy sessions of tomfoolery.
Above: Autographed photo of Ella Fitzgerald.
Above: Ella Fitzgerald.
Above: Ella Fitzgerald fronting her orchestra in 1939 with guest Erskine Hawkins on trumpet.
Above: Ella Fitzgerald performing.
Above Left: HARTFORD COURANT, September 18, 1938: BRINGING 'SWING' TO STATE THEATER STAGE
Ella Fitzgerald, "hot" singer with Chick Webb's Savoy Swing Band, which opens a week's engagement on the stage of the State Theater today. Chick Webb, one of the most proficient drummers of the day, is shown at the top of the picture.
Above Right: Ella Fitzgerald. [Photo provided by Hans-Joachim Krohberger.]
Above Left: DES MOINES TRIBUNE, March 23, 1944.
Ella Fitzgerald, and maybe her little yellow basket, will appear with the stage show opening Friday at the Orpheum.
Above Middle: TAMPA BAY TIMES, January 4, 1942. ELLA FITZGERALD AT CASINO JAN. 12
The Cosmopolitan Club....announced today that their official dance season will open at the Manhattan Casino Jan. 12 with Ella Fitzgerald and her nationally known band furnishing the music for their initial affair. Ella, who has been named the "First Lady of Song," has reached the height of her ambitions, now being a great singer and song writer. It was while appearing on a Harlem amateur program that the late Chick Webb recognized her ability and gave her a job with his band. When he died, he left her his band, and Ella has carried on. She has become a national celebrity due to her ability to swing nursery rhymes, exhibited in her "A Tisket-A Tasket" hit which literally swept the nation.
Above Right: PITTSBURGH COURIER, June 28, 1941: ELLA SIGNS MOVIE CONTRACT
Ella Fitzgerald, first lady of swing, is congratulated here by John A. Bur-Ton, of Oakland, Calif., after signing a contract for a movie in which she will be starred.
(NOTE: Ella starred as "Ruby" in the February 1942 released movie "Ride 'Em Cowboy", along with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. In the movie, she sings "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" and "Rockin' And Reelin'", the latter backed by The Merry Macs, a vocal group that recorded for the Decca Label.)
(Still of Ella from "Ride 'Em Cowboy")
Above: PITTSBURGH COURIER, July 3, 1937: BACK ON 'GOOD TIME SOCIETY' BROADCAST
Chick Webb, his Savoy Swing orchestra and Ella Fitzgerald, after a hurried trip from the West, was heard again over the national hookup of WJZ Monday night, featuring the entertainment of the "Good Time Society." It is rumored that Webb is being considered by a commercial sponsor.
Above: BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE, September 4, 1941:
Ella Fitzgerald and the band she inherited. (See related article under "Blurbs And Articles" further below.
Above Left: PITTSBURGH COURIER, January 29, 1944.
Above Right: ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, May 24, 1944.
Above Left: DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE, May 16, 1943.
Above Right: PITTSBURGH PRESS, June 19, 1944.
Far Left: RECORD ARGUS, January 29, 1942.
Left: GREENVILLE NEWS, November 8, 1945.
Above: DAILY NEWS, March 2, 1943.
ELLA FITZGERALD PHOTOS....
ARTICLES AND BLURBS....
DES MOINES REGISTER, August 13, 1938: ELLA FITZGERALD, KRNT AT 6 P.M. TODAY
Ella Fitzgerald, who recently appeared in Des Moines with Chick Webb's swing band, will be the name vocalist on the Saturday Night Swing Club, KRNT, 6 p.m. She's slated to swing out on "A Tisket, A Tasket" and "I'm Justa Jitterbug." Ella sings with the famous Chick Webb Band and her boss and legal guardian, Webb, will join her on the Swing Club. Chick, a ranking drummer, is to give a sample of his art on this session....
(Picture at right is from the above article.)
TAMPA BAY TIMES, December 3, 1939: ELLA FITZGERALD, TALK OF THE SWING WORLD, HERE MONDAY
Ella Fitzgerald, that "sonny [amazing, unique] storm in song" will actually make her entrance into our city tomorrow evening at the Manhattan Casino, with more than 700 or 800 of her fans listening eagerly to her.... Ever since Ella can remember, she has always longed to be a singer whose interpretations would touch her very soul and call from it the feeling that is necessary in the making of a great song delineator. A struggling ameteur once, but now a first class pro, she has the stamped approval of the greatest bandmasters of the day. Her talents have been polished to a shining luster by the late Chick Webb, and she is the talk of the swing world. Ella's talents have carried her across horizons seldom reached by others of our race. Today her popularity is unbounded.
(Picture at left is from the above article.)
BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE, September 4, 1941: SONG THEY HUMMED MADE HER FAMOUS
Ella Fitzgerald had just come back from Hollywood and she was feeling in fine fettle when the interviewer arrived. She will play her first engagement in Brooklyn at the Strand Theater Friday, where she'll co-headline with the Ink Spots. She was somewhat of a mysterythis 23-year-old Harlem girl, who had inherited an entire band three years ago.... It was the kids around Public School 25 in Brooklyn, who were largely responsible for her writing the hit tune that entirely changed her career and made the name Ella Fitzgerald a draw at the box-office.
The children were chanting a strange song that went something like "tisket, a-tasket, a green and yellow basket." It was a nursery song that was many, many years old. At that time another colored songstress, Maxine Sullivan*, was making a name for herself by swinging "Loch Lomond" and other Scottish classics. This inpired Ella to fool around with "tisket, a-tasket." With the aid of Chick Webb and arranger Al Feldman, a Brooklyn musician who has since become the band leader Van Alexander, a swing arrangement was made.
LISTEN (Windows Media Player): Recorded on May 2, 1938, backed vocally by the orchestra. "A-Tisket A-Tasket" - Chick Webb Orchestra (Vocal by Ella Fitzgerald) - Decca 1840 A - 1938.
When the smoke had cleared the song was sweeping the country and Ella was reaping the usual harvest. Chick Webb's band skyrocketed into the first ten class of the big bands.... Lucrative dates such as the N.Y. Paramount resulted. And several months ago the climax was reached when Hollywood sent for her to play an important role in Abbott and Costello's epic, "Ride 'Em Cowboy."
Ella Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Va., and when her parents died she lived the rest of her youth in the Riverdale Orphan Asylum [Riverdale, NY]. One of the most popular radio programs at the asylum was the Harlem Amateur Hour which emanated from the Apollo Theater. One night Ella went A.W.O.L. and entered the amateur contest. Ella planned to tap dance but when her chance arrived her legs froze to the stage. Because she was too stage-struck to dance she saved the situation by bursting into a song. [Are you buying any of this?] The gong interrupted her warbling but starmaker Moe Gale and the late Chick Webb were in the audience and disagreed with the judges. They rushed backstage to sign her to a contract with Webb's band. Because she was only 16 and a minor, Webb and his wife adopted her. When the diminutive drummer passed on at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, he bequeathed the band to her....
(*NOTE: Watch VIDEO of the movie production number, "Mutiny In The Nursery," from the 1938 movie "Going Places" in MP4 format, featuring Maxine Sullivan, Louis Armstrong, and The Dandridge Sisters.)
PITTSBURGH COURIER, December 5, 1942: ELLA FITZGERALD, FOUR KEYS AT APOLLO
NEW YORKElla Fitzgerald and the Four Keys held forth at Harlem's Apollo Theater last week. The brownskinned songbird, whom rose to fame with the orchestra of the late Chick Webb, came back to Harlem in her new roleminus a large orchestra, but with the piano, bass and guitar, plus some pretty smooth warbling from the boys.
PITTSBURGH COURIER, May 10, 1945: ELLA FITZGERALD AND NEW INK SPOTS WAX TWO HITS
NEW YORKElla Fitzgerald, America's First Lady of Song, and the Ink Spots, featuring Bill Kenny, who recently recorded two highly popular tunes for Decca, "I'm Beginning To See The Light" and "That's The Way It Is" finds these two headline hit attractions in the spotlight.... Currently playing the Paramount Theatre in New York, both the Ink Spots and Ella register with theatregoers at the Broadway Playhouse where business is good. Few attractions border along the same proportions as does the combination of the No. 1 song stylist and America's famous quartet....
PITTSBURGH COURIER, July 5, 1947: ELLA FITZGERALD TABBED ONE OF GREATEST SINGERS
NEW YORKThe word "great" has been abused so much until it's handed out to the right people it usually passes without even being noticed. However when it's used to describe the ability of Ella Fitzgerald, passed on by George Frazier, widely read wax critic, it's news. In his weekly record column for Variety last week Frazier wrote about La Fitzgerald in glowing terms. "Ella Fitzgerald, who came out of an Amateur Night in Harlem during the late '30's and joined Chick Webb's band, is unquestionably one of the greatest girl singers available...."
EXTRA AUDIO #1 (Windows Media Player):
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
Above Left: Label image for Decca 18347 recorded on April 10, 1942, and released in May 1942.
Above Left Middle: Label image for Decca 18633 recorded on November 6, 1944, and released in 1944.
Above Right Middle: Label image for Decca 24497 recorded on August 20, 1948, and released in 1948.
Above Right: Label image for Decca 27602 recorded on March 27, 1951, and released in 1951.
At Far Left: PITTSBURGH COURIER, January 9, 1943:
Ella Fitzgerald-Four Keys NBC HitWhen Ella Fitzgerald gave up the "Chick" Webb band, fans wondered what would happen to her. The answer is seen above, for she immediately teamed up with the Four Keys and went sustaining on WJZ and the Blue Network. They clicked immediately and now manage to play a few dates throughout the East in conjunction with their broadcasting.
At Immediate Left: INDIANAPOLIS RECORDER, November 14, 1942:
Ella Fitzgerald And The Four Keys
The Billboard Review (5/23/42):
ELLA FITZGERALD DECCA 18347.... All I Need Is You
Here is a truly beautiful song and beautifully sung by Miss Fitzgerald. Her parting with the band, using the Four Keys now as instrumental accompaniment, has certainly not detracted from the Fitzgerald disksin fact, judging from this one the change was for the better. Operators should hop on this one immediately, because this song is a cinch to be a favorite soon.
EXTRA AUDIO #2 (Windows Media Player):
[Label image, audio file and audio restoration courtesy of Dave Saviet.]
Above Left: Label for Decca 2105 A recorded on October 6, 1938 and released later that year. She is backed vocally by the orchestra's ensemble.
Above Right: Photo of Ella Fitzgerald singing with Chick Webb And His Orchestra. Chick is behind Ella, on drums, giving the "thumbs up".
Listen to "F.D.R. Jones" - Ella Fitzgerald And Chick Webb Orchestra - Decca 2105 A - 1938.
EXTRA AUDIO #3 (Windows Media Player):
Above Left: Label image of Decca 4315 recorded on March 11, 1942 and released in April 1942.
Above Right: Label image of Decca 23425 recorded on March 27, 1945 and released in June 1945.
Above Left: Label image of Decca 23670 recorded on August 29, 1946 and released in October 1946.
Above Right: Label image of Decca 23399 recorded on February 26, 1945 and released in March 1945.
NOTE: Most discographical information provided at this website is from Ferdie Gonzalez' Disco-File.
Listen to this week's selections featuring Ella Fitzgerald on Decca from 1942/1946 using Windows Media Player:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. I'm Gettin' Mighty Lonesome For You
2. When I Come Back Crying
3. I'm Beginning To See The Light
4. That's The Way It Is
5. It's Only A Paper Moon
6. Cry You Out Of My Heart
7. For Sentimental Reasons
8. It's A Pity To Say Goodnight
ALL EIGHT ABOVE SIDES played in sequence
ALL TWENTY-TWO SONGS ON THIS PAGE
played in sequence
[To download audio files, right-click on song title
link and then click "Save link (target) as..."]
Click HERE for SPOTLIGHT ON THE DELTA RHYTHM BOYS - PART ONE (FEATURING MILDRED BAILEY).
(Above link will open in a separate window)