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4.6 out of 5 stars17
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 18 April 2002
Ella Fitzgerald's Songbook series which were recorded for the Verve jazz record label during the fifties and sixties were, and still are, a gigantic commercial and critical success. Each album has it's own unique style and each is given the brilliant 'Ella' treatment. She sings as only she can, with unbeleivable ease, and has such a joyful voice you can't help but smile whilst listening.
The songbooks were a tribute to the greatest popular American songwriters of all time. The originators of songs that will never be out of date. They are timeless.
However, while albums the Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Gershwin and Ellington albums are all heaped praise upon, one is alway overlooked, and that is the Johnny Mercer Song Book.
Perhaps the reason this album in particular is overlooked is because Johnny Mercer was not a prolific music writer. He did write melodies, but mainly he just wrote lyrics to tunes which had already been written.
I feel that this is an injustice to the brilliant songs which are included on this album. From the bright swing of the opening 'Too Marvelous for Words' to the gorgeous ballads such as 'Midnight sun' and 'Early Autumn' this is quite simply a classic album.
I do think this album has a slightly different feel to the other song books. It is certainly more jazzy and has more of an edge to the arrangments (written by Nelson Riddle). I also think that Ella's voice has a more melencholy sound during the ballads than her earlier recordings (this album, from 1964, was the last song book she recorded for Verve).
This is a superb album, Ella's voice sounds stunning, the songs are all classics (although some of them are not obvious choices). It is in a far less 'straight' style than her earlier songbooks, it includes lots of instrumentals and solo's for the musicians. If you would like to hear classic Ella, but don't want to go for the obvious choices, then I would definately recommend this album. A superb collection of songs sung in superb style.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 November 2010
Ella Fitzgerald sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook

Ella is in fine voice here and the accompaniments by Nelson Riddle are excellent. My main disappointment is that they were only able to put 12 tunes on the CD, as for the 1964 LP. By now (1997) the technology would have allowed for additional tracks but I guess in this instance they didn't record any extras.

Mercer was a prolific lyricist - and an occasional songsmith. Most of the tracks here are `standards' with one or two rarities like `Travellin' light' and `Single O'. Mercer, who died in 1976, wrote over 1000 lyrics for many different songwriters, and a few tunes (like `Dream', recorded here) himself. He was one of the three founders of Capitol Records and having their recording artists singing and playing his songs didn't do his songwriting career any harm either.

Mercer was born in the deep South and struck up a friendship with `Hoagy' Carmichael early on. Together they produced `Skylark', recorded here. Ella also records a few numbers that were originally big band numbers to which Mercer put words: Ralph Burns' `Early autumn' for Woody Herman; Sonny Burke and Lionel Hampton's 1947 tune `Midnight sun' to which Mercer added lyrics in 1954. Victor Scherzinger's `I remember you' , which was such a big if only short-lived hit for Frank Ifield is here; as is David Raksin's enchanting theme music for the thriller `Laura'.

Somewhat limited selection aside, this is an excellent CD and Nelson Riddle of course never fails to delight with the accompaniments.
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on 27 December 2006
This is a wonderful album with wonderful songs and - especially - a wonderful Ella Fitzgerald. Her voice is more beautiful than ever, but unfortunately her voice plays second fiddle on this album. Nelson Riddle arranged the songs a bit too rich for my taste. The spotlights are for his orchestra. Riddle clearly wanted a change from his previous work with Fitzgerald. His arrangements are a lot less subtle than on the Gershwin Song Book. Especially on Day In, Day Out, where the voice cannot keep up with the brass power. It does work on some songs, though. Especially Something's Got To Give is very good. And when the orchestra mellows a little on the slow songs, like I Remember You, it's magic.
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on 2 February 2014
By no means the best of the songbook series, that would have to go to either Rogers and Hart or Gershwin, but as the last in the series very respectable. Ella, perfect as always and great arranging from Nelson Riddle who has accompanied her on two previous albums. I think this pairing is the best of the three. Worth the money for just a few of the tracks namely This Time the Dreams on Me, Skylark, Dream and Midnight Sun.What a great lady of song she was.
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on 31 October 2012
I love this album! Nelson Riddle dispensers with strings. His brass/reed arrangements/orchestrations are sharp, punchy and exciting. There's some beautiful blending/voicing for reeds.

There's some amazing stuff from Plas Johnson on sax. My favourite arrangement of the album - Dream, Nelson gives us a little nod to one of his heroes - Artie Shaw with a brief clarinet solo.

I love the choice of songs, Nelson's fantastic work and Ella's autumnal vocals.

This always puts me in a great mood!
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on 8 February 2010
Have you wanted a disc of songs to play around midnight - pick this one. If it only had Midnight Sun on it would be worth the price
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on 9 August 2015
What a great service as it arrived after only 3 days. The condition in excellent for a used CD so I couldn't wish for any thing more.The actual CD is another classic of Ella's singing the Great American Songbook and it is superb. Her rendition of the Hoagy Carmichael' s Skylark makes the hair on my neck stand up and the other numbers just knocked me out
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on 16 January 2016
For me Ella is the greatest singer and the song books her greatest achievement. This although only having 13 tracks on it, is (for the moment at least) is my favourite. There is only track 8 that's not as superb as the others but tracks 2,3,10,11 &13, music just doesn't get any better,sublime.
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on 20 December 2013
On first hearing, this album didn't appeal but, after two or three plays, it begins to seep into your very core and there's no going back. I just love it and think it's the best of my many Ella albums.
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on 3 August 2013
I bought 3 of these. Couldn't be better, the combination of Fitzgerald and Mercer is too magical for words, especially tracks 6, 8 and 12.
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