Acoustic Sounds

Ella Fitzgerald

Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie!



Label: Verve Acoustic Sounds Series

Produced By: Norman Granz

Lacquers Cut By: Bernie Grundman

By: Michael Fremer

April 3rd, 2024





Ella's Small Combo Session Still Swings!

long time audiophile fave back on the press

Ella backed by a small jazz combo was an unusual musical setting for Ella in the studio, which makes this album recorded and released in 1961 a catalog standout. Pianist Lou Levy leads the quartet that also features guitarist Herb Ellis, bassist Joe Mondragon and on drums Stan Levey.

Clap also highly regarded for its excellent sonics, recorded somewhere in Los Angeles. Since producer and Verve founder Norman Granz was also Ella's long time manager and started the label for her you can be sure he used only the best studio and engineer, but who and where seems lost to time. Could have been United Western.

Ella's earlier songbook albums are the cream of the Verve crop but this set stands out for the small combo setting, for the sound and of course for Ella in her prime swinging on a set of well chosen songs including the title tune, which she first sang in the Chick Webb band back in the 1930s.

She opens with a sizzling "A Night In Tunisia" and moves on to classics like "Stella By Starlight", "Round Midnight" and she delivers a sultry "Cry Me A River" to start side two.

The Absolute Sound's founder Harry Pearson championed this album before vinyl reissues started up so prices for clean stereo originals began climbing. It's a superb recording, with Ella front and center and not buried in reverb she obviously didn't need. Such a clean rendering of Ella's voice puts you in the booth with her. The quartet is left/right as was typical in those days but they are also very cleanly recorded with Ellis and Levy left channel and Levey and Mondragon on the right. Ellis's work throughout is uniformly outstanding. The recording of Mondragon's bass is particularly well-textured. Levy's piano also stands out.

Classic Records issued it in 1994 on 180g and it was a big event. A decade later Classic again released it this time on 200g Quiet SV-P and then in 2012 Analogue Productions did a double 45 200g edition mastered by George Marino. And now we have this new version mastered by Bernie Grundman. I'm not sure if Acoustic Sounds used Classic metal parts or it's a new cut but it sure sounds warmer than I remember the Classic being, but my system's much improved since I last played this record.

I'm not going to go back and compare them all, though I have them and numerous "trumpet" label originals. So I'll just say, if you have one of those—original, Classic or Acoustic Sounds double 45, you're all set, and if you don't, you'll definitely like this one for music, sound, gatefold laminated jacket and of course Ella's wonderful performance backed by a great combo! Easy to recommend and I do!

Music Specifications

Catalog No: Verve V6-4053/602458986785

Pressing Plant: Quality Record Pressings


Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Quad

Source: original master tapes

Presentation: Single LP


  • 2024-04-04 08:16:38 PM

    Mr. Audio wrote:

    I still bought this version even though I have all the ones mentioned above. Great album! Great music!! Great musicianship!!!

  • 2024-04-04 09:00:21 PM

    Come on wrote:

    I don’t exactly remember this one, but several other Classic Records Grundman reissues clearly bettered the later AP ones in resolution, air, 3D. Billy Holiday / Songs For Distingué Lovers is one of the examples. I guess this Ella was also such an example. I think Grundman’s (was always, especially when EQ wasn’t occasionally off) and Kevin Gray’s (newer) mastering chains are the best, a shootout would be interesting.

  • 2024-04-05 02:35:36 PM

    PeterG wrote:

    Bought this the other day on your recommendation--it's terrific--thanks! It's especially appreciated as it's difficult to find sonics worthy of vocal greats such as Ella

  • 2024-04-05 11:32:08 PM

    oldlistener2222 wrote:

    Is this in Quad ?