VOCAL PERFECTION REMASTERED…Ella Fitzgerald: Sings the Cole Porter Songbook

In the same vein that you cannot give informative opinion to movies if you have not seen Casablanca or Citizen Kane, or cannot discuss philosophy or religion if you haven’t read the Bible, it is impossible to give an opinion of female vocals unless you have imbibed from the waters of Ella Fitzgerald’s Songbook series, of which this 1956 Cole Porter Songbook was the first, and possibly the best. Here,you have the original two-album set available in vinyl or SACD disc, beautifully re-mastered by Ryan Smith, cleaning everything up like a restored Sistine Chapel

Producer Norman Granz, who was starting the Verve Label and trying to display the then-stagnant Fitzgerald in a more sensitive environment, came up with the idea of having the vocalist take up “songbooks” of various composers as themes for albums. The studio band conducted by Buddy Bregman boasted of the likes of Harry “Sweets” Edison, Milt Bernhart, Herb Geller, Barney Kessel, Ted Nash and Paul Smith, to name a few. The orchestra, sometimes supplemented with strings, gave Fitzgerald a collection of environments and moods to match the wide range of emotions that sprang from Porter’s pen.

And Ella was more than up to the task. There are no better versions on this great planet than her swinging pop on the incessant “Too Darn Hot” while she sounds delightfully desperate on “It’s All Right With Me.” She bathes in with the lyrics as she winks an eye to “Let’s Do It” and delivers a rich aria to introduce the bon mot of “I Love Paris.”

Her forte’ were winsome tunes, and she adroitly delivers buoyant pieces such as “Anything Goes” and “It’s Delovely.” There was always a cheerful gleam in her tone, even on sardonic pieces such as “Just One Of Those Things” or the delicate and vulnerable “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.” No matter the mood, the enunciation is spot on, the beat infectious and the musicality unequaled.

Put aside all other albums for awhile and get to know the standard by which all other singers are and should be compared.


Analog Spark Records


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