Sometimes the greatest moments happen purely by accident. Like in 1960, when Ella Fitzgerald recorded her live album, “Ella in Berlin,” in front of an audience at the Deutschlandhalle. In the middle of “Mack the Knife,” Ella somehow couldn’t remember the lyrics: “Oh, what's the next chorus, to this song, now. This is the one, now I don't know…” While the Paul Smith Quartet stoically kept playing, Ella improvised the rest of the lyrics with whatever came to mind, even adding a parody of Louis Armstrong’s unmistakable voice.
To the delight of the cheering audience, she turned the next song, “How High the Moon,” into eight minutes of improvised scat singing. But no, this wasn’t just singing. Her voice became another instrument, playing a breathtaking solo that showcased the ultimate range of sounds singable by a human voice: Cawing, croaking, trolling, buzzing, screaming and whispering – from gentle to strong, from high to low. And all those lucky enough to be there that night became part of one of the greatest jam sessions of all time.