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Alexander Toradze meets Ella Fitzgerald

“Lexo” as Alexander Toradze is called by his friends, as a student and into his young adult life, would get together with friends in the basement of his home in Georgia in the former Soviet Union to listen to the Voice of America’s Jazz Hour. To them, Jazz was the voice of freedom. It was their opportunity to dream about fleeing their oppressed society and travel to America and liberty! Lexo loved to listen to the great American Jazzmen of the time. Oscar Petersen, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, but his absolute favorite, was Ella Fitzgerald.

 

In this clip Lexo tells of his first encounter with the legendary Ella Fitzgerald. Lexo was on tour in the United States, representing his country, the former Soviet Union. He was in Portland, Oregon on his last night before departing to Miami, his next stop on the tour. That night, he happened on a poster announcing “Ella Fitzgerald in Concert.” Unfortunately, Ella’s performance was to be on the evening of the day he would be traveling to Miami. Lexo immediately petitioned his KGB guard to allow him to change his schedule; something that was strictly forbidden and could affect his ever traveling outside of the Soviet Union. However, nothing was going to keep him from seeing Fitzgerald perform; not his rigid schedule, or the KGB guard, who was assigned to assure he followed through with his schedule. What happened next was the stuff of lasting memories, great humor and universal fan adoration, when the star struck fan risked it all to see perform the object of his affection! For more information on the film visit Michiana's WNIT.

 

Also, be sure to watch previous "PBS Arts from" video exhibits featuring the cities of New York, Phoenix and Cincinnati.

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