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Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book

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Album Review

Ella Fitzgerald's idea to sing the songbooks of major writers proved smart, savvy, and artful. By the time she began to record Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book in 1960, she had sung the songbooks of Duke Ellington, Rodgers & Hart, and Irving Berlin. This relaxed and tastefully arranged set showcases Fitzgerald in her prime, confidently engaging 28 of Arlen's best songs. Familiar pieces like "One for My Baby" and "That Old Black Magic" make appearances, along with all-time classics like "Stormy Weather" and "Over the Rainbow." On this latter tune, she adds the front verses, an appealing addition that few will be familiar with. Billy May's orchestra lays down a quiet mix of horns and strings that perfectly supports Fitzgerald on songs like "When the Sun Comes Out" and "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe." Four bonus tracks, including two alternative cuts, spice up the package. A particular oddity, "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead," converts surprisingly well into big-band jazz. The attractive CD set also includes the original album cover, an outline of a face drawn by Henri Matisse. Sings the Harold Alden Song Book is an exquisite album, a classic in vocal jazz, and one of Fitzgerald's best recordings. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford Jr., Rovi

Biography

Born: 25 April 1917 in Newport News, VA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

"The First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald was arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time (although some may vote for Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday). Blessed with a beautiful voice and a wide range, Fitzgerald could outswing anyone, was a brilliant scat singer, and had near-perfect elocution; one could always understand the words she sang. The one fault was that, since she always sounded so happy to be singing, Fitzgerald did not always dig below the surface of the lyrics she interpreted...
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