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Reviewers: Don Mather, Marc Bridle, Ian Lace, Peter Woolf, Colin Clarke

Ella Fitzgerald
Sings the Irving Berlin Song Book

VERVE 2CD Set 543 830-2

Disc One
  1. Let's Face the Music and Dance
  2. You're Laughing at Me
  3. Let Yourself Go
  4. You can have Him
  5. Russian Lullaby
  6. Puttin' on the Ritz
  7. Get Thee Behind me, Satan
  8. Alexander's Ragtime Band
  9. Top Hat, White Tie and Tails
  10. How about Me
  11. Cheek to Cheek
  12. I used to be Colour blind
  13. Lazy
  14. How deep is the Ocean
  15. All by Myself
  16. You Forgot to Remember

Disk Two

  1. Supper Time

  2. How's Chances?
  3. Heat wave
  4. Isn't This a Lovely day
  5. You Keep Coming Back Like a Song
  6. Reaching for the Moon
  7. Lets Go Slumming on the Park
  8. The Song is Ended
  9. I'm Puttin' All My Eggs in One Basket
  10. Now it Can be Told
  11. Always
  12. It's a Lovely Day Today
  13. Change Partners
  14. No Strings ( I'm Fancy Free)
  15. I've Got my Love to Keep me Warm
  16. Blue Skies

This album was recorded in 1956, two years after I completed my National Service and I have been listening to it ever since, prior to this however on vinyl. I first heard Ella at the Colston hall in Bristol, where she shared the bill with the Oscar Petersen Trio and the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. Seeing her live performance on that occasion convinced me, that for the rest of my life, I would not miss a chance to hear more from this, the No1 jazz vocalist of all times.

Some of the songs here are very familiar, but some I have only ever heard on this album, Irvine Berlin composed some 800 or more songs. In Ella's hands every tune is a winner and I never tire of hearing these performances. The backings from the Paul Weston orchestra are of the same calibre, but very different from those created by Nelson Riddell for the Sinatra, 'Songs for Swinging Lovers' album, another all time classic. This is the work of an arranger who both understood the construction of the melodies and the right backings for Ella's very individual vocal style. Looking at the personnel, the session musicians were supplemented by some top-class 'jazzers', to get the right blend of precision and swing.

Jazz has a lot to thank impresario Norman Granz for, as well as creating Jazz at the Philharmonic, it was he who had the idea to record the several Songbooks, that brought Ella into contact with the works of the great writers of popular songs. It is surprising how well a lot of these songs have lasted!

If I were to be on 'Desert Island Discs', this would be my vocal album. Like all great music, it transcends style and taste to appeal to everyone, with no sacrifice in quality.

In my opinion it represents the finest singing of Berlin's songs you will here, by the way Berlin thought so too!

Don Mather

. If you don't have it already, buy it.

Don Mather is a Sax Player and bandleader based in Coventry

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