The idea behind The Original Great American Songbook is a simple one: to collect great American singers doing the greatest songs from some of America's greatest pop and jazz composers, and the end result is a disc that should go up into space in a time capsule. Highlights are constant, but include Billie Holiday's version of Dizzy Gillespie's "You Go to My Head," Jeri Southern doing Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye," and Shirley Horn's 1993 take on Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia on My Mind." Dinah Washington does a pair of Cole Porter standards, "I Get a Kick Out of You" and "Stardust," while Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong duet on two songs, the Gershwins' "They Can't Take That Away from Me" and Carmichael's "The Nearness of You." That they don't write 'em like this anymore is obvious, since all of these gems were written in an age when melody determined rhythm; they don't sing 'em like this anymore, either, since melismatic ornamentation had yet to become its own elaborate art form.
AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett