Ella & the Great American Song Book

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Ella Fitzgerald, photographed by Carl Van Vech...

Ella Fitzgerald, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1940 Jan. 19 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By any criterion, Ella Fitzgerald's eight albums on Verve focusing on the giants of American songwriting represent a monumental achievement.  Between 1956 and 1964 this peerless interpreter tackled the tunes of Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hart and Johnny Mercer and created, in the process, a body of work which is stunning for its artistry, sophistication, refinement, and consistency. 

It is no surprise that the quality of Ella's singing is uniformly of the highest quality.  She unerringly penetrates to the emotional pith of the songs and exhibits her customary effortless technical mastery throughout.  Technical brilliance is not limited to Ella's vocals, however.  The engineering on all eight albums is such that I honestly don't believe I have heard any recordings, of any vintage, that sound better on my home system.   These recordings are graced by suave arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn, Billy May, Paul Weston and Billy Bregman, as well as classy performances by studio pros like drummer Irv Cottler, guitarist Barney Kessel and saxophonist Plas Johnson. Lovers of the canon of music that has become known as the Great American Songbook will be forever grateful for the creative genius that brought these remarkable albums to life.

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook (1956) (Buddy Bregman)

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers & Hart Songbook (1956) (Buddy Bregman)

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook (1957) (Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn)

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook (1958) (Paul Weston)

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook (1959) (Nelson Riddle)

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook (1961) (Billy May)

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook (1963) (Nelson Riddle)

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook (1964) (Nelson Riddle)

Compact Disc recordings of all of these albums are available,

                             or currently on order for the Library

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1 Comment

Nothing to dispute in your appreciation of Ella, and the focus on her Verve work; only a couple of additions. Her superb musicianship is roundly acknowledged, as a lyric interpreter and as a scat improviser. Too often overlooked in brief reviews is her sense of humor and fun which inflected so much of her work, and so mightily contributes to her vast and enduring popularity.

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Waring published on November 1, 2012 7:53 PM.

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