April 25th Centennial of Ella Fitzgerald

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Today marks the centennial of American jazz singer, Miss Ella Jane Fitzgerald. She was born on April 25th, 1917 and passed away June 15th, 1996 due to complications from diabetes.

Ella Fitzgerald was discovered during an amateur night at the Apollo theater in Harlem. She was often referred to as the “First Lady of Song”, “Queen of Jazz” and “Lady Ella”. Her first big hit, “A Tisket, A Tasket” was released in 1938, which was written by both Ella and Chick Webb. She had a remarkable talent for singing and was most noted for her pure tone, improvisational ability and scat singing.

Norman Granz, a famous jazz impresario, worked with Ella during her career and built up the record label Verve Records based partially on her vocal talents. It was with Verve that Ella wrote many of her best works including her interpretation of The Great American Songbook.

Ella also appeared in movies and as a guest on popular television shows. She worked with a number of other Jazz artists including Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington. One notable album, Porgy and Bess, was awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, a special award that honors recordings with “qualitative or historical significance”. It was considered to be among the most successful jazz vocal versions and would be released to coincide with the movie version.

After a long and successful career, which included 13 Grammy nominations and countless Downbeat Jazz Awards, Ella Fitzgerald would play her final concert at Carnegie Hall in 1991.

In addition to her many achievements, Ella assigned all of her royalties to the Charitable Foundation that bears her name. So every time you purchase a new recording of Ella’s, the royalty is donated in order to continue her charitable legacy. The centennial begins April 25th, 2017 and will conclude April 25th, 2018.

To commemorate Ella’s 100th birthday, the Smithsonian Museum opened “First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald at 100.”, and the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles has created a similar tribute. In addition, much of her body of work will see re-releases all year long.

Looking for albums from Ella Fitzgerald’s discography? Check out our shop!

This Week in Music History (May 21st-27th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

300492-large5/21- On this day in 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released the single “Ohio” in reaction to the May 4, 1970 Kent State shootings during which unarmed college students were shot by members of the Ohio National Guard.

2174-large5/22- On this day in 1965, The Beatles reached No.1 on the US singles chart with their track “Ticket to Ride”. The song was the group’s eighth No.1 hit. It was also used in the Beatles’ second film Help! and was a part of the film’s soundtrack.

375787-large5/23- On this day in 1970, Paul McCartney‘s debut solo album McCartney began a three-week run atop the US album chart. Apart from a few vocal contributions by Linda McCartney, McCartney performed and recorded the entire album as a solo project.

101405-large5/24- On this day in 1974, jazz legend, bandleader, composer and pianist Duke Ellington died of lung cancer and pneumonia at age 75. Ellington’s career spanned over 50 years; he was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 1966, and the United States Mint launched a new coin featuring his face in 2009.

32093-large5/25– On this day in 1968, Simon and Garfunkel‘s fourth studio album Bookends became the duo’s second US No.1 hit. The album was a breakthrough for the pair, launching them to superstar status. It contained their No.1 hit single “Mrs. Robinson”, which went on to win a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

12589-large5/26- On this day in 1990, the top five positions on the US singles chart were held by female artists for the first time. Madonna was at No.1 with “Vogue”, members of Heart were at No.2, Sinead O’Connor at No.3, Wilson Phillips at No.4, and Janet Jackson at No. 5.

114141-large5/27- On this day in 1977, The Sex Pistols‘ single “God Save the Queen” was released in the United Kingdom. Although the track sold over 200,000 copies in one week and peaked at No.2 on the UK charts, it was banned by TV, radio, and stores because of its controversial lyrics.

Pick up these pieces of music history in our CD marketplace! Every album purchase comes with unlimited streaming and downloads in mp3, aac, and lossless formats FLAC and ALAC. :-)

Bargain Hunt Giveaway: Tom Waits, Björk & Charles Mingus

The Murfie marketplace is full of ridiculous bargains. Working here at Murfie HQ, I see more great deals on the site than I could possibly justify snagging myself. That’s why I’ve decided to start the “Bargain Hunt Giveaway.”

Here’s how it works: When I see an awesome deal on an interesting album, I take note of it. I’ll spend $5 (total) on some great albums, talk about them a bit, then give them away to you!

For a chance to win, either comment below or tweet @murfiemusic with the hashtag #BargainHuntGiveaway, and include the name of the album you’d like to win. Next week, I’ll pick three random winners and gift them the album on Murfie.

Read on for my recent finds, and remember that I only paid $5 for all three of these albums!

First Find: Tom Waits – Bone Machine
Tom Waits has been one of my favorite artists since the day I purchased a copy of Real Gone on vinyl. It was the first of many vinyl purchases made on a whim, and I never regretted it. While Real Gone may have been my gateway album, Bone Machine has some absolute classics. “Earth Died Screaming”, “Dirt in the Ground” and “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” are the kind of songs you will find on just about every Tom Waits cover album, and Bone Machine was in general a taste of the sort of material he’d release for the next two decades.

This album even includes the quintessential manthem* “Goin’ Out West“.

Well I know karate, voodoo too
I’m gonna make myself available to you
I don’t need no make up
I got real scars
I got hair on my chest
I look good without a shirt

Second Find: Björk – Vespertine
Vespertine is an album I always forget about.  And for no good reason! Perhaps it’s because I really hopped on the Björk train full-bore with Volta in 2007. The rest of her catalog came to me in an attempt to find more of what I loved about Volta. Make no mistake, though – Vespertine is its own beautiful beast. “Hidden Place” is an incredibly subdued starting point for the album, and she somehow brings it down another notch immediately after with “Cocoon”. The glitchy beats spread throughout the album really compliment the ever present harp work and her typically ethereal vocals, and in general, Vespertine is all about the atmosphere.

My favorite track on the album is hands down “Sun in My Mouth”, which draws lyrics directly from the e.e. cummings poem “Wade.” Melodically, the song also reminds me of the more delicate moments in some of Sondheim‘s work.  It’s one of e.e. cummings’ more visually evocative pieces, and the brevity of Björk’s interpretation makes sure it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Final Find: Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um
The year 1959 was a huge one for jazz to say the least. Time Out (specifically the song “Take Five”) made Brubeck a household name, while Miles Davis released the masterpiece that is Kind of Blue. We also got three albums by John Coltrane (including the unforgettable Giant Steps) and Ornette Coleman‘s The Shape of Jazz to Come.

While I love all of those albums, Mingus Ah Um will always have a special place reserved in my heart as one of the first jazz albums I really got to know inside and out. I became a fan of jazz in early high school, and Mingus Ah Um is full of tunes I’ve been listening since then. What I love most about the album is how down to earth it is. It sounds like Mingus and his crew are playing in the room with you. I love the realness of the group clapping and distant preaching in album opener “Better Git It in Your Soul”.

Mingus Ah Um is an album completely filled with these intimate moments, including tributes and homages to the likes of Lester Young, Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton. It even caused a bit of a stir in its own right when Columbia famously refused to let Mingus record the politically charged lyrics for Fables of Faubus (though the validity of this claim is still debated). If you come across it, I highly recommend the 50th anniversary 2-disc Legacy Edition, which includes three alternate takes, as well as the sister album Mingus Dynasty.


If any of these albums sound interesting to you, comment below or tweet @murfiemusic with the hashtag #BargainHuntGiveaway, and include the name of the album you’d like to win. Three random winners will be gifted these albums next week!

*manthem = man + anthem

This Week in Music History (April 24th-30th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

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4/24- After hearing Ray Charles perform the classic tune “Georgia on My Mind”, the Georgia State Senate and House of Representatives decided to make it their official State Song  on this date in 1979. Ray Charles was born in Georgia, of course.

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4/25- Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of the hit band TLC was tragically killed from injuries that resulted from a car accident in Honduras on this day in 2002. Several albums featuring Lopes would be released posthumously, including Eye Legacy.

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4/26- On this day in 1964, The Beatles headlined at The New Musical Express Annual Poll Winner’s Concert. They performed many hits, including “She Loves You” and “Twist and Shout”. Groovy!

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4/27- The Eagles began playing shows for their Hell Freezes Over tour on this day in 1994. Recordings from this series of shows would later be used to create their second live album, Hell Freezes Over, which stayed at #1 on the Billboard album charts for two weeks.

138-large4/28- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on this day in 1999. Talk about runnin’ down a dream!124469-large

4/29- Duke Ellington was born on this day in 1899. Duke majorly contributed to the big band music scene for over 50 years, and continues to be a key influence in jazz to this day.

205-large4/30- On this day in 2005, The Dave Matthews Band agreed to pay $200,000 in a lawsuit settlement. The band & their bus driver were being charged for dumping human waste from their tour bus onto a boatload of tourists while the bus was crossing a bridge over the Chicago River. Splash!!!

Oh, you wanna own any of these albums, or hear ‘em in lossless format? Well whaddya know…we just so happen to have them for sale! Right now these titles start at just $1!