By Daniel Buckwalter

The length and breadth of her career was stunning. She was not “The First Lady of Song” for nothing.

Ella Fitzgerald’s magical work — the athleticism, the artistry, the elocution and soft storytelling — took the spotlight Thursday night at Jaqua Concert Hall at The Shedd, courtesy of The Emerald City Jazz Kings and singers Shirley Andress, Marisa Frantz and Sarah B. Rose.

The Jazz Kings, led by saxophonist Jesse Cloninger, took the intimate audience through the songs that Fitzgerald framed and made famous. From “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” to “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive” and “Mack the Knife” in Set 1 to “I Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues” and “How High The Moon” in Set 2, Fitzgerald’s range crossed genres and endured her to music lovers of all categories.

Fitzgerald was fortunate. From the very start, as a 15-year-old girl singing at Amateur Night at the famed Apollo Theater in New York City in 1934, she was a natural on stage.

Saxophonist and arranger Benny Carter was playing that night, and he was impressed enough with Fitzgerald that he introduced her to other musicians for a chance at work.

She found consistent work, and by 1936, Fitzgerald made her first recording, “Love and Kisses.” In 1938 she recorded her playful version of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” It sold more than a million copies and vaulted to No. 1 on the pop charts for 17 weeks.

Ella Fitzgerald was now a well-known commodity.

She also was flexible. As big swing bands were fading, bebop was coming into vogue. Fitzgerald took the opportunity to experiment with improvisational scat singing. She turned into an art form and thrilled fans.

Scat was not on display Thursday night, but Andress, Frantz and Rose were in top form in interpreting the music that Fitzgerald made famous.

I am a particular fan of soft, lyrical storytelling. My favorite piece of the night was “Stars Fell On Alabama.” Fitzgerald recorded her version of it in 1956, accompanied by the soulful trumpet playing of Louis Armstrong.

On Thursday night, Andress sang the piece accompanied this time by saxophone player Jonathan Corona. It was lovely.

In a career that spanned almost 60 years, Fitzgerald won 13 Grammys, was awarded the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Medal of Honor Award as well as National Medal of Arts and the Commander of Arts and Letters award from France.

Ella Fitzgerald deserves the spotlight, always, and she received it with grace Thursday night from Andress, Frantz, Rose and The Emerald City Jazz Kings.

There’s one more chance to take in this concert. “It’s All Right With Me: The Songs of Ella Fitzgerald,” featuring The Emerald City Jazz Kings continues Sunday, 3 p.m. at Jaqua Concert Hall at The Shedd, 868 High St. in downtown Eugene. Tickets are available at the ticket office, 541-434-7000, or online at