The key word here is “essential” for this is not a re-release of the original 32-track album but a 22-track modified version. Perhaps 20th Century Masterworks have deemed such fare as Let’s Do It, Why Can’t You Behave, Always True To You In My Fashion and seven more as too rich for your blood, although this hasn’t prevented them flaunting the original cover in their 20-page booklet.
This was the first release on Norman Granz’s label Verve and it may well be that in 1956, with rock and roll and worse waiting in the wings Granz hedged his bets by saddling Ella with pedestrian arranger Buddy Bregman who in turn laid some equally pedestrian charts on Ella.
Whilst it’s true that the era of the big band (1935-1955) was deader than vaudeville, people like Billy May and Nelson Riddle had no trouble assembling 15 good men and true from session musicians; indeed, Bregman himself was able to call upon – and squander – the talents of Pete Candoli, Conrad Gozzo, Maynard Ferguson, Harry Edison, Milt Bernhardt, Alvin Stoller, Barney Kessel, etc.
Having said that, the album had two things going for it: Monsieur Porter and Mam’selle Fitzgerald, both of whom did what they did better than anyone else doing the same. To put it another way, even a mere 22 tracks by this duo is better than 44 by anyone else. So, my advice? Buy, play, bask!
(The vinyl version of this title was reviewed in April.)
I Love Paris; Night And Day; Love For Sale; Begin The Beguine; All Of You; Easy To Love; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; I Get A Kick Out Of You; So In Love; What Is This Thing Called Love; You Do Something To Me; Get Out Of Town; In The Still Of The Night; Anything Goes; Miss Otis Regrets; Too Darn Hot; Just One Of Those Things; From This Moment On; Ridin’ High; You’re The Top; It’s All Right With Me; Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye (76.22)
Fitzgerald (v). Orchestra arranged and conducted by Buddy Bregman. Los Angeles, 7-9 February and 27 March 1956.
20th Century Masterworks 170055