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Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook

Ella Fitzgerald

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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

Customer Reviews

The Best

Ella is still the best and this is my favorite of her songbook series. Anyone who can make Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead swing the way she does is someone very special.

Ding dong ding dong...

And who'd have thought there would be such a resurgence of interest in that song in 2013? :)

My advice: don't just buy the Witch is Dead - though it rocks, way better than the Munchkins version - get the whole songbook! It's great!! Wonderful arrangements, clear recordings and they still sound great after compressing for iTunes. Perfect Sunday morning music - or late evening music. Let the Iron Lady introduce you to the First Lady - of Song. Might be one of her greater contributions to the universe.

Biography

Born: April 25, 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...
Full Bio

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