- Ambulatory Suite
Promenade (Walking the Dog)
March of the Swiss Soldiers
Sam and Delilah
But Not for Me
My One and Only
Let's Call the Whole Thing Off
(I've Got) Beginner's Luck
Oh, Lady Be Good!
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Things Are Looking Up
Just Another Rhumba
How Long Has This Been Going On?
The Man I Love
That Certain Feeling
Someone to Watch Over Me
The Real American Folk Song (is a Rag)
Looking for a Boy
They All Laughed
My Cousin in Milwaukee
Somebody from Somewhere
A Foggy Day
Clap Yo' Hands
For You, For Me, For Evermore
Stiff Upper Lip
Strike Up the Band
I've Got a Crush on You
Bidin' My Time
Aren't You Kind of Glad We Did?
Of Thee I Sing
“The Half of It, Dearie” Blues
I Was Doing All Right
He Loves and She Loves
Love is Sweeping the Country
Treat Me Rough
Love Is Here to Stay
Slap That Bass
Isn’t It a Pity?
Shall We Dance?
Love Walked In
You've Got What Gets Me
They Can't Take That Away from Me
I Can't Be Bothered Now
Boy! What Love Has Done to Me!
- Oh, So Nice!
- Let’s Kiss and Make Up
- I Got Rhythm
- Somebody Loves Me
- Cheerful Little Earful
- But Not For Me
- Someone to Watch Over Me
- My One and Only
- But Not For Me
- Looking for a Boy
- I’ve Got a Crush On You
- How Long Has This Been Going On?
- Nice Work if You Can Get It.
, Pete Candoli
, Joe Triscari,
, Cappy Lewis, Vito Mangano,
, Dale McMickle, Shorty Sherock
, James Priddy, Juan Tizol
Noel, Tommy Pederson
Karl DeKarske, George Roberts – Bass trombone
Vincent DeRosa, James Decker – French horn
Ed Gilbert or Red Callender
, Benny Carter
, Ronnie Lang
– Tenor sax
Chuck Gentry – Bass sax
, Buck Skalak, Gene Cipriano, Jewell Grant, Jules Jacob, Wilbur Schwartz
Gordon, William Green, Harry Klee, Joe Koch, Champ Webb – Woodwinds
, Lou Levy
, Ellis Larkins – Piano
, Barney Kessel
Joe Comfort, Ralph Pena – Bass
Alvin Stoller, Mel Lewis, Bill Richmond – Drums
Frank Flynn, Larry Bunker - Percussion
, Henry Hill, Harold Dicterow, Erno Neufield, Victor Arno, Victor Bay, Alex Beller, Joseph Livoti, Jacques Gasselin, Walter Edelstein, James
Getzoff, Eudice Shapiro, Ben Gill, Murrary Kellner, Nat Ross, Felix Slatkin, Marshall Sosson, Misha Russell, Paul Shure, Dan Lube, Gerald Vinci –
Alvin Dinken, Lou Kievman, David Sterkin, Stanley Harris, Paul Robyn, Barbara Simons – Viola
Elizabeth Greenschpoon, James Arkatov, Armand Kaproff, George Neikrug, Dave Filerman, Kurt Reher - Cello
Katharine Julyie - Harp
These recordings have been reissued numerous times since they first appeared in 1959, but it is good to have all of them on three CDs, together
with some other Gershwin songs interpreted by Ella.
When reviewing a recording by Ella Fitzgerald, one has to face criticisms of her as a lightweight singer without emotional depth. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music refers to Ella’s “Lack of emotional intensity”. Writing on the internet, a reviewer said that he
preferred Billie Holiday’s version of Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off because he said that Billie’s interpretation conveyed what a tragedy
it would be if the loving couple “called the whole thing off”. But surely this is an ironical song in which a couple jokingly bewail the unlikely
possibility that they might have to split up over a trivial matter of pronunciation. Instead of profundity or tragedy, Ella gives us largely
cheerful performances. They may sometimes seem to lack “emotional intensity”. Instead you get the pleasant experience of someone clearly enjoying
life and savouring George Gershwin’s memorable melodies, plus the wit and buoyant attitudes of Ira Gershwin’s lyrics – surely something well worth
having, particularly in these dark days.
Incidentally, Ira Gershwin was still alive when these recordings were made and he revised some of the lyrics slightly. His response to these
recordings was sufficient refutation of the more gloomy approach to the Gershwin brothers’ creations: “I never knew how good our songs were until I
heard Ella sing them”.
Having got this far with writing the review, I belatedly remembered that I had already reviewed
the identical set back in 2011 when it was
previously released! Put my memory lapse down to my age. But with
such a classic collection, there is no harm in a second listen – and a second assessment, although my conclusions will be fairly similar.
I’ll pick out a few representative tracks. (I’ve Got) Beginner’s Luck exemplifies how Ella often sings the rarely-hear verses,
which contain some apposite Ira Gershwin lyrics (e.g. “That’s what I always heard, And always thought absurd”). In the film of the same name, Fred
Astaire memorably addressed Funny Face to Audrey Hepburn, but Ella addresses the song to a man, including the verse (“Truth to tell
though, you’re not such a lot yourself, As a Cary Grant you’re not so hot yourself”). There’s a hint of wry humour in the way she sings it.
Ella’s ability with cheerful songs is exemplified by You Got What Gets Me, like several items here, a rare Gershwin composition. Cheerful Little Earful has Ira Gershwin’s cheeky sequence of rhymes: “lowdown – slowdown - the milk and honey flow down.” The “earful”
turns out to be “I love you”. Ella convincingly sings “You can do it” (even if you “pooh-pooh it”). She takes pleasure in the lyrics of such songs
as They Can’t Take That Away from Me, where the verse includes those convoluted but agreeably inventive lines “The song is ended but as
the songwriter wrote, “The melody lingers on”.
Tracks 12 to 15 on the third CD are alternate takes from the same sessions. But one of the most cherishable parts of these discs is the one
comprising tracks (CD3, tracks 16 to 24) that Ella recorded with pianist Ellis Larkins. Larkins accompanied Ella with superb empathy and a tender
grace, which was matched by Ella herself, making for calmer tracks than some of those on the Song Book set. Just listen to a track like But Not For Me, where Ella’s simple, unfussy delivery is matched by gentle accompaniment from Ellis, including a piano half-chorus with a
subtle hint of stride. It actually brings tears to my eyes.
As well as the tens of songs listed here, the Gershwin brothers wrote a large amount of other masterpieces. But Ella recorded numerous Gershwin
compositions on other albums, which suggests what a rich treasure these two brothers left us. I consider this the best of all Ella’s “Song Book”
series. You are unlikely to hear these songs better performed anywhere, especially now that so many young hopefuls think they can interpret these
songs equally well, if not better. They can’t.