GUITARIST Martin Taylor was lucky enough to see jazz great Ella Fitzgerald in concert.

"I think I was only ten years old at the time," he recalls. "I grew up with music, hiding in the corner at jazz clubs from a young age as my dad was a jazz musician and was a big Ella fan and a Big Count Basie fan too.

"We'd gone to see Count Basie, and I didn't know that Ella Fitzgerald was going to be singing at the concert too, but she sang that night and the song that really struck me was Willow Weep For Me.

"I remember when Ella came on, she had very bad eyesight, she was almost blind and had to be led on, but then this incredible, powerful voice came out of her, just so beautiful and young-sounding.

York Press: Ella Fitzgerald.

Ella Fitzgerald

"You got this sense of a no-nonsense woman, who came across as so humble, with nothing of the diva about her. People later told me that what she used to do in the interval was do her knitting for her grandchildren, so she was like everyone's favourite granny and then she'd go out and do her magic."

Harlow guitarist Taylor and the Scottish-Canadian jazz singer Alison Burns will "do Ella's magic" at the National Centre for Early Music in York on Sunday in their 7.30pm concert entitled Celebrating 100 Years Of Ella Fitzgerald. The duo will be highlighting the Grammy-award winning collaboration between Fitzgerald and jazz guitarist Joe Pass in a programme inspired by Fitzgerald and Pass's intimate 1960s duo recordings.

"I let Alison come up with the initial set list because whenever I work with singers, I'll say 'I like such and such a song' and they'll say 'I don't like the lyrics', as they listen in a different way to me: as a guitarist I listen from the melodic or harmonic perspective first," says Martin.

"Like me, Alison is such a big Ella fan, so she did her list and then I added a few she hadn't written down, and we then had to try to eliminate some songs, but Ella really only sang great songs!"

Martin Taylor & Alison Burns, Celebrating 100 Years Of Ella Fitzgerald, National Centre for Early Music, York, Sunday, 7.30pm, preceded by In Conversation with Martin and Alison at 7pm. Box office: 01904 658338 or at