Pure Love – The Voice of Ella Fitzgerald review by Jim Byrne


In ‘Pure Love – The Voice of Ella Fitzgerald’, filmmaker Katja Duregger celebrates the voice and musicality of Ella Fitzgerald – charting her rise, from the low of working as a lookout at a bordello (1930’s), to the high of receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom (highest civilian awards of the United States) in 1992.  

The film is a treat. It was a joy to hear the development of her style – and an education to learn of her intelligence as a musician. Ella Fitzgerald was not just a woman with an unrivalled three-octave voice – she was a hugely talented and distinctive musician. No band leaders’ puppet – she took charge and knew how to put her instrument (her voice) to best use, no matter the musical genre.   

The film was packed with previously unseen film footage, photographs and interviews with friends and musical collaborators – Dianne Reeves, jazz drummer, producer Terri Lyne Carrington and jazz violinist Regina Carter among many others. From her friends we learned of the contrast between her professional and personal life; one confident and successful; the other reserved, shy and wary of being taken advantage of. 

The film charts Ella’s career path and that of her many musical collaborators,  – but for me (apart from the knowledge we gained of her musicality) for the first time I felt I got an insight into her personality and character. By the close of the film, I was saying goodbye to a friend. An emotional farewell to one of the greats. 

Pure Love – The Voice of Ella Fitzgerald was screened in Glasgow’s CCA as part of ‘Doc ‘n’ Roll’ festival. The festival packed six critically heralded films into the long weekend of 27th thru 30th June, 2019.

Jim Byrne, July, 2019

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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