This yellow vinyl 180-gram limited edition release is a selection from Fitzgerald’s 1956 Grammy-winning two-LP set of Cole Porter songs – possibly one of the great vocal jazz albums of all time.
Editing two albums’ worth of material down to one is clearly a subjective and difficult choice, but this has been done judiciously and the set retains balance. But to be honest, any selection from the original album would always be worth a listen. The marriage of one of the greatest female jazz vocalists of all time with one of America’s most talented and accomplished composers is a marriage made in heaven.
Cole Porter made a massive contribution to the Great American Songbook, and many of his songs have become jazz standards. But the longevity of these songs has generated a sort of blind reverence that wasn’t always the case when they were written. It is a myth to believe that they were all instant hits or that the jazz fraternity embraced them from the beginning. Many of the so-called “jazz standards” were frequently written for obscure or failed shows. Songs were regularly pulled from their originally intended productions and recycled many years later in other shows.
Thankfully, Porter was prolific in his composing until his death in 1964, and we are now left with a legacy of songs that rank amongst the best.
We owe a great deal to Ella Fitzgerald for pioneering the “songbook” concept and recording albums for Verve each featuring the works of a single composer. These were immensely popular recordings and did much to cement Fitzgerald’s career as well as the reputation of the various songs and their composers.
Fitzgerald has sometimes been criticised for the limitations of her vocals, but when it comes to swing and rhythm (a key feature of Porter’s songs) there can be no finer singer. These songs have been performed numerous times over the years by many artists, but probably never bettered. After nearly 70 years they remain a masterclass in how to interpret and sing Porter. From the opening track, I Love Paris, to the closing track, Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye, Fitzgerald’s expressiveness, accuracy and phrasing (accompanied by some outstanding arrangements) are quite simply stunning.
In addition, the heavyweight vinyl and a very clean pressing make this an audiophile’s delight.
I Love Paris; Begin The Beguine ; All Of You; Easy To Love; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; I Get A Kick Out Of You; Night And Day; Love For Sale; So In Love; What Is This Thing Called Love?; You Do Something To Me; Get Out Of Town; In The Still Of The Night; Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye (44.57)
Fitzgerald (v) with, collectively: Buddy Bregman (arr, cond); Pete Candoli, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Maynard Ferguson, Conrad Gozzo (t); Milt Bernhart, Joe Howard, Lloyd Ulyate (tb); George Roberts (btb); Herb Geller, Bud Shank (as); Bob Cooper, Ted Nash (ts); Chuck Gentry (bar); Paul Smith (p); Barney Kessel (g); Joe Mondragon (b); Alvin Stoller (d); string section. 7-9 February and 27 March 1956, Los Angeles.
20th Century Masterworks 350236