Sings the Great American Songbook

Ella Fitzgerald

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Sings the Great American Songbook Review

by arwulf arwulf

Legend has it producer Norman Granz experienced considerable frustration during the years when Ella Fitzgerald was signed to Decca records. He couldn't understand how that company's A&R directors could possibly rationalize squandering the singer's talents on inferior material with what sometimes amounted to little more than cheesy accompaniments. When at last Granz was able to sign a contract with Ella, he began to involve her in a series of "Songbook" sessions that would eventually encompass many of the greatest melodies in the standard jazz repertoire. Norman and Ella saluted Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hart in 1956; Duke Ellington in 1957, Irving Berlin in 1958, George & Ira Gershwin in 1959; Harold Arlen in 1960, Jerome Kern in 1963 and Johnny Mercer in 1964. In 2008 the Acrobat reissue label brought out an Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Great American Songbook sampler containing 12 examples drawn from various facets of her protracted involvement with Granz's pet project. Ella is a commanding presence throughout, and she shares "A Foggy Day" with Louis Armstrong. All of the composers mentioned thus far are represented, along with Hoagy Carmichael, Sigmund Romberg, Oscar Hammerstein II and Dorothy Fields. This is only a tiny taste from a massive body of work that set the standard for singers, instrumentalists, and listeners alike.

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