The most complex musical instrument ever created under God's heaven is the human voice, and I have never heard anyone play that instrument more beautifully than Ella. My life has been enriched by the knowledge of this magnificent songstress.

My twin brother [of blessed memory, Donald L. Tavel (1952-1988), Associate Professor of Music, Indiana University Graduate School of Music, the School of Electronics and Computer Music (which was founded upon his entry into graduate school)] designed a synthesizer in the middle 1970's. He used to explain the computer's tracking abilities by way of reference to "A Foggy Day" as sung by Ella because there was no finer example to graphically display the "reading" of this input and show that the words were not "understood" but that the scat was, just as when the input was a piano or violin.

In addition to having listened to her recordings for over thirty years, I was graced with the opportunity to see her in concert with the late great Count Basie in Lansing, Michigan in 1976. There was a Republican fund raiser going on (at which Liz Taylor choked on the chicken bone, remember?) and the "music hall" that was booked for this performance was a gymnasium. Lord have mercy, but the limitations of the spatial environment were completely transcended by Ella and the Count's perfect projections.

I will always treasure my memories of Ella and, though it is presumptuous to suggest that there is a best set of recordings, my favorites are the 1957 Norman Granz production of "Porgy and Bess" with Louis Armstrong (artwork from which I contributed to her memorial site) and the 1941 "Birthday (her 40th) Concert" in Rome, Italy.

Sweet Sleep Ella, with love

R. J. Tavel, JD
June 21, 1996


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