by Donte Kirby
Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, names you hear your grandparents talk about with fond memories. Memories often preceded by “you kids in this generation don’t know what real music is”. Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald are jazz legends. In their time when jazz to the youth was what hip-hop is now, they were what Beyoncé and Jay-Z are now (and probably couldn’t be if they hadn’t paved the way). Undeniable musical icons of their era, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong together recorded a duet album performing the opera Porgy and Bess (composed by George Gershwin, with a libretto written by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin).
It’s a somber tale of a disabled beggar and a drug addict woman in an abusive relationship finding love in each other. Hearing the gravelly croon of Armstrong contrast with the sultry belt of Fitzgerald in a single song like “It Ain’t Necessarily So” exemplify the range of sound that is jazz. That’s not to mention Armstrong’s trumpet which tap dances on the ears during solos in songs “A Woman is A Sometime Thing” and “I Got Plenty of Nuttin.” Like the dichotomy of the two legends voices from track to track the album contrasts swinging upbeat jazz tunes with slow tempo somber jazz ballads.
Porgy and Bess isn’t a quintessential album for neither Armstrong nor Fitzgerald, but it’s never a loss for the ears to hear two greats unite. Jazz in today’s generation may have some stigma to it as something that’s highbrow or overly complicated, but this record is simply great music. Yes, it’s something your grandparent’s parents listened to but imagine a world 30 years from now. A world where you’re grandkids won’t listen to Drake and Future’s What a Time to be Alive or Kanye and Jay-Z ‘s Watch the Throne. Wouldn’t that just bring a tear to your eye? Don’t make your grandparents cry, listen to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.