Though she recorded often during the early '60s, Ella Fitzgerald had mostly been seen in jazz settings, whether small group (Bill Doggett) or big band (Count Basie). Hello, Dolly!, recorded early in 1964, offered her a chance to record with an orchestra in the background and a list of popular crossover songs on the sheets. The first three were all big hits during early 1964, the opening title track a surprise chart-topper for her dear friend Louis Armstrong, the second, "People," a Broadway crossover hit for Barbra Streisand, and the third being the only title published by BMI on the entire LP, "Can't Buy Me Love" by the Beatles (coincidentally, the song that Armstrong knocked from the top). Just the beginning of Fitzgerald's flirtation with the new rock generation of the '60s, her Beatles cover is undeniably wonderful, an irresistible hard swinger with much room for improvisation, and none of the hesitation most jazz singers would display in the future when attempting to confront the coup de tete of cool performed by the British Invasion. Elsewhere the record is invigorated by Fitzgerald's feel for material and a series of underrated charts by Frank DeVol, such as the spare strings on Ella's mournful "My Man," the quiet Latin intrigue of "The Thrill Is Gone," and the lush strings of "Lullaby of the Leaves."
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AllMusic Review by John Bush