The Thanksgiving scene in the movie version of The Color Purple was a fake out, like Luther Vandross’s false ending on A House is Not a Home. The music slows to a whimper, and Luther chants ever so softly. Then, he brings it on home.
Ella Fitzgerald does the same thing on How High the Moon. In 1966’s The Stockholm Concert with Duke Ellington, Ella performs some of her grittiest skats.
“I guess I better quit while I’m ahead,” Ella lightly croons after what sounds like improv- a dynamic jam session between a stage chock full of greats. Then, the beat drops to a snare and Ella digs in with a real nasty groove.
While the drum drones, Ella is growling and trilling, riffing and ranting like a trombone, two trumpets and a sax together. One can almost imagine her shoulders squeezing and releasing like a tense metronome as the snare races. It’s funkier than the Miles Davis Quintet, and Ella even does a great Miles!