Ella Fitzgerald forgot the words to "Mack the Knife" during a 1960 concert at Berlin's Deutschlandhalle.
That didn't dissuade the singer, who stands alone with her artistry. Fitzgerald brilliantly improvised the lyrics, referencing Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong's hit records of the song and winning over the audience with her infectious delivery.
Her impromptu performance was so dynamic that a recording made of the concert was called "Mack the Knife" by Norman Ganz, Fitzgerald's producer and the founder of Verve Records. The concert album won two Grammy Awards, and Fitzgerald's rendition of the song was lauded as a classic.
At the height of the Cold War, Fitzgerald returned to Berlin two years later. Granz also recorded that concert at the divided city's SportPalast. But the high-quality reel-to-reel recordings, done in mono and stereo, were lost for years until recently rediscovered in a box, held together by Scotch tape.
Using new software, the tapes were digitally remastered to better highlight Fitzgerald's voice. In the jazz event of the season, an album called "The Lost Berlin Tapes" was recently released to widespread critical approval.
As with the previous album, Fitzgerald's swinging quartet was led by her pianist and musical director, Paul Smith.
Jazz is known for live recordings that give listeners the sense that they were there at that moment. "The Lost Berlin Tapes" will stand as a classic to pair with Fitzgerald's previous Berlin recording.