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on 29 November 2000
This is an album of the most magical, achingly beautiful music-making. It really is one of those records which, in the words of one of the numbers so lusciously performed here, "makes a cloudy day sunny." There was no kind of popular song written between 1920 and 1960 that Ella Fitzgerald couldn't handle, and as a result, it's almost absurd to compare one of her albums with another. However, for sheer, transcendent beauty it's hard to beat this set of gorgeously rendered ballads. For what it's worth, it would be one of about five discs I would try to save from a house fire.
Ella Fitzgerald's 'concept' albums of the late 1950s and early '60s for the Verve label are all at least the equal of Frank Sinatra's, pressed for Capitol during the same years. In this one, as in a set of up-beat numbers released at about the same time, Ella is abetted by Sinatra's most brilliant arranger, Nelson Riddle. His total commitment to the special qualities of each singer with whom he worked, and to the special ethos of each project, is neatly shown by comparing his arrangement of 'She's Funny That Way' on this album with his backing for the same song on Sinatra's 'Nice 'n' Easy', recorded the previous year. The settings are almost unbelievably unlike one another, and yet each, in its own way, is true to the spirit of the song. Riddle's charts on 'Ella Swings Gently' are, surely, some of the very best he ever wrote. The orchestral texture is intoxicating: brilliant chords from the brass are splashed across the silky background of his lilting string lines. The result is a sound that is as colourful as Ella's voice, complementing flawlessly the warmth and sensuousness of her singing here. Though the mood and tone are consistent, Riddle never repeats himself: each number surprises and delights, and every hearing seems to reveal new splendours.
The glory of the human voice, as Sinatra and Fitzgerald both realised, is that it can mimic and surpass the effects produced by virtually any instrument in the orchestra. In this album, Ella's timbre is as effortlessly liquid and limpid as the smoothest reed solos from such colleagues as Stan Getz, Johnny Hodges and Paul Gonsalves. And in terms of range, of course, Ella has the advantage, for she can caress notes at either end of the register without any loss of resonance.
There is not a single indifferent song on this album, and never do the standards of musicianship from any of the performers waver: 'Ella Swings Gently' is perfection's self throughout. It's not even easy to pick out one track that is better than the others, but special acknowledgement is, perhaps, demanded by 'Body and Soul,' a touchstone of the jazz musician's art since the '20s. This was the last in the original line-up (it's now followed by two bonus tracks) and was obviously meant to form a fitting climax to the LP. Certainly, Ella pulls out all the stops: though understated, her performance of this song is filled with infinite yearning and veiled sadness of a kind that only she could convey. It might have been a fitting climax not only to the record, but to her career. Fortunately, it was not - there were golden years ahead for her. But this number, like the album as a whole, is a pearl beyond price.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 September 2012
This is one of a pair of LPs now on CD that Ella Fitzgerald recorded with Nelson Riddle, apart from the Great American Songbook releases of music by Mercer, Kern and Gershwin on which they collaborated. The CD, recorded in 1961 and 1962, contains a couple of numbers by Jimmy van Heusen: `Imagination' with lyrics by Johnny Burke, and `Darn that dream' from the unsuccessful musical version of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream that he wrote with Eddie DeLange. We also have Richard Whiting's `She's funny that way' (lyr. Neil Moret), Ray Noble's `The very thought of you', Victor Young's `Street of dreams' to which Samuel Lewis added words, and lots of other `standards' to make up the 15 tracks on the CD. The one track that was new to me on the CD, not on the LP, was the slow and languorous `Call me darling'. This selection is as good as everything else Ella and Nelson did together, but I agree with the reviewer about the unfortunate echo on the tracks, whether it's deliberate or unintentional. It's not enough to spoil enjoyment of the music, but
this should have been eliminated.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 January 2012
Take a bunch of popular classic tunes, add charts by top arranger,Nelson Riddle and top off with some career best vocals by Ella and you have a very listenable album.In to the bargain,record said proceedings with an eye on capturing the warm and subtly nuanced performances of said band and singer and you have a disc that still sounds fresh and enchanting,many years after initial release.

Rather then repeat the positive comments of fellow reviewers, it would be more constructive to say that 'Swings Gently' is the kind of disc that you'll find your self listening to more regularly then at first you might imagine,especially as it's a great antidote to a hard day at the salt mine.My favorite tracks would have to be 'Sweet and Slow' and 'The Very Thought of You',mellifluousness personified,though of course, you dear reader might feel differently...either way, there is a lot to enjoy, what ever your preferences.

So if you want to hear great singing and swinging but without too much in the way of fireworks, this disc is self- recommending.
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on 28 August 2011
Being a big fan of Ella's Cole Porter Songbook and Nelson Riddle's work with Sinatra, I eagerly picked up this album. Unfortunately, it was almost unlistenable. Her voice and phrasing appeared to be on top form, as was Riddle's arrangements. Th big, big problem here is the producer's use of echo, which seemed like a new gimmick at the time. It reduced the album to the level of those cheap recordings that you used to pick up in Woolworth's. What a terrible waste!
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on 27 September 2013
Sensational. The songs are well chosen, arrangements and sound are impeccable. And Ella is comfortable playing with her style without restrictions. Great for anyone, fan or not of her.

Sensacional. Las canciones han sido bien escogidas, los arreglos y el sonido son impecables. Y Ella se encuentra a gusto interpretando con su estilo, sin restricciones. Excelente para cualquier, fanático o no de Ella.
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on 5 May 2015
If you like Ella you will probably like this collection of standards
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on 1 August 2015
Excellent.
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