Frank Sinatra once said that the best way to start any musical evening is with Ella Fitzgerald. And "it doesn't get better than this". MAAA members and collaborators had the honor and pleasure of enjoying "One night in America" and listening to some of her best hits performed by the Big Band. The attendees felt as if they were teleported, at least for a brief hour and a half, to the United States of America, a country so dear to all the MAAA members.

Ella Fitzgerald, known as the "First Lady of Song" or just "Lady Ella," was a pioneering American jazz vocalist who performed much of the Great American Songbook. Even though she didn't have an easy life trying to live her own American dream, her songs and her intense, majestic, and seductive voice always celebrated life, giving meaning and a ray of light and versatile emotion to the mundane, everyday existence. She was even the first African-American woman who won the prestigious Emmy Award in 1958 and that is really not just worth mentioning, but worth honoring as well. One cannot but be at awe and pay the deepest respect and esteem for Ella's overall output and singing.

Therefore, the first MAAA American pop and jazz fundraising concert, held on December 1, 2017 in the new building of the Macedonian Philharmonics, was intended to honor the outstanding career of this wonderful, timeless American jazz singer and song-writer, celebrating the year marking the hundredth anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald's birth. Mr. John Ilija Apelgren, one of the most famous jazz vocalist in Macedonia, who has set high standards in performing the most popular jazz tunes and is often compared to the grand Nat King Cole, along with Ms Marija Dimitrijevich, the vocalist of "Marija Jazz Quartet" with her provocative yet subtle, exotic voice, sang many popular American songs like: "Got under the audience's skin" making it "Dream a Little Dream" (Fabian Andre/Wilbur Schwandt/Gus Khan) about the "Beautiful Maria" (Arne Glimcher and Robert Craft), then, taking it straight to "New York, New York" (Fred Ebb/John Kander) to "Sing Sing Sing" (Louis Prima) along with the "Devil's Daughter" (Joel Evans/Adrian Ross) and so many others. The conductor of the jazz orchestra, Emin Dzijan contributed to the overall enjoyment with his sense of humor and his unbelievably powerful charisma.

The concert was sensational. Everybody seemed to enjoy the concert so much that they were singing along the popular American songs. The musicians of the Big Band orchestra and the singers received standing ovations by the audience. The event was also a perfect opportunity for MAAA to grant the US Ambassador in Republic of Macedonia, HE Mr. Jess Baily an Honorary membership for his exceptional contribution to the cooperation and collaboration between the people of Macedonia and the United States, as well as for his selfless support in bringing the two countries closer together. MAAA thanked him for being the strongest pillar on which they have erected the bridges of friendship with the USA. On behalf of MAAA, the President of the Association, Dr. Mišo Dokmanović presented the Honorary membership to Ambassador Baily, expressing his hopes for even more intense future cooperation.

TMAAA also took the opportunity to introduce their Annual Award and granted it to Dr. Lela Jakovleska for her great contribution to "building strong bridges" between the US and Macedonia.

Finally, Stanley "Stan the Sound" Getz, a prominent American saxophone player said that there are 4 qualities that describe great jazz: taste, courage, individuality and irreverence. During "One night in America" we were honored to experience and enjoy them all. It was an unforgettable evening, packed with emotion, singing, laughter and tears. Music brought the two countries closer together on this cold, rainy December night, by removing all the bridges and borders and making us all fell as a part of one huge Macedonian-American family of jazz devotees!

Written by Natalija Shikova


Bulding bridges of cooperation
between the United States and Macedonia