Simply a grand and eloquent performance put together by Verve records highlighting the best years of Ella Fitzgerald – that sassy, charming legendary singer in jazz. The Best of the Songbooks features a captivating lineup of some of jazz's greatest composers and arrangers. It is here that Fitzgerald records and sings songs of Cole Porter, Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, George & Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, and Johnny Mercer.
Though her career stretched from the '30s to the '80s and she's widely considered possibly the greatest female jazz singer or all time, Ella Fitzgerald will probably forever be best known for a mid-'50s collection of albums collectively called the Songbooks, where she devoted entire albums to the works of such composers as Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, and Duke Ellington. THE BEST OF THE SONGBOOKS: THE BALLADS is one of the many compilations based on these recordings, and one of the best. From its beautiful, informative packaging to its gorgeously remastered sound, this 16-track, 64-minute collection treats the material with the respect it deserves. The material, of course, is first-rate, wall-to-wall standards from Johnny Mercer's wistful "Laura" to Ellington's sly "Do Nothin' Til You Hear From Me." Fitzgerald's performances are equally outstanding, as are the mostly big-band arrangements. This is as good as jazz ballad collections get.
The only recording Ella Fitzgerald made as a duo with a pianist is re-created with this new and exciting duo. Very intimate, moving, grooving, a feast of the senses, this tribute CD to Ella Fitzgerald will make you remember the Great American Songbook!
Here is an instruction manual for singers. Phrasing, intonation, breath control, taste, musicianship, restraint, humor; it's all here. What with "jazz singing" wandering all over the lot as the century staggers to a close, let's hope that The Complete (what dimensions that phrase has in this context) Ella and Louis will be used for serious course work, and not just by beginners. The package contains everything from the LPs Ella & Louis, Ella and Louis Again and Porgy and Bess, plus two tracks of Fitzgerald sitting in with Armstrong's band at the Hollywood Bowl. The contrast between her polished perfection and his rough perfection is delicious. Armstrong's trumpet playing, nearing its last full burst of glory, is as moving as his voice.The songs are by the cream of American song writers, including Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Arlen, Ronnell, Duke and Kern. They have never been sung better.