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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glorious reminder of the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald,
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Over the Rainbow, Beyond Praise,
By A Customer
Ella's collaborator for this collection is the arranger Billy May. Never having been a fan of May's distinctively brash big band sound, I have to confess I avoided the Arlen Songbook as long it was available only on two over-priced separate CDs. However, when the more reasonable Master Edition double came out and I finally succumbed - chiefly to complete my set of the Ella Songbook series - I felt entirely foolish for having been so prejudiced. May's charts, which use a great range of different orchestral forces, match the impeccable rightness of Ella's interpretations. None of the other Verve songbooks is more finely tuned, and apart from the cooking Ellington set, I can't think of any that is so thrilling.
In the liner notes for the new edition, May is quoted as saying that he did not see eye to eye with the producer, Norman Granz. Because Harold Arlen is generally regarded as the most blues-oriented (and by extension jazz-oriented) of Broadway/Hollywood composers, Granz apparently wanted every number to be a jazz side. However, May's annoyance with Granz's bullying doesn't show in the music: all the openings for jazz solos seem natural and unforced, and the charts bubble with fun and excitement.
To those who know already just how subtle Harold Arlen's music is, this album will be pure, concentrated delight. Ella had recorded many of the songs before - 'Blues in the Night,' 'As Long as I Live,' 'One for My Baby' and 'Let's Fall in Love' had appeared in the couple of years immediately prior to this 1961 release, and others, such as 'That Old Black Magic' were staples of her concert repertoire - but they never sounded better. With the possible exception of the rather ordinary 'Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead' (left out of the original album but restored here as a bonus track) every number throws new light on Arlen's music, and allows Ella to explore the clever lyrics of such writers as Ted Koehler and Johnny Mercer in new ways.
This will probably never be the most celebrated or popular of Ella Fitzgerald's songbooks, just because Arlen is not pure Broadway, like the Gershwins, or pure jazz, like Ellington. But make no mistake, the Harold Arlen Songbook is without doubt the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic!,
By A Customer
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ella sings the Harold Arlen Songbook,
This delightful collection of 26 different Harold Arlen tunes (plus two alternative takes) is arranged and conducted by Billy May who, along with Nelson Riddle, was a frequent studio arranger for Capitol Records. The collection here however is on Norman Granz' Verve label.
There's a good selection of the various lyricists with whom Arlen worked: Ted Koehler (who was his first collaborator in about 1930) on `Stormy weather' and `Ill wind'; Johnny Mercer on `Blues in the night' and `That old black magic'; `Yip' Harburg on `Over the rainbow' and `Happiness is just a thing called Joe'; Leo Robin, Ira Gershwin, and more. The enclosed booklet gives the titles of the shows from which the tunes are taken.
Billy May's backings vary from wistful on `Ill wind' to up-tempo on `That old black magic', and everything in-between. Virtually every track is a `standard': there obviously wasn't room to include some other lovely less well known Arlen numbers like `Last night when we were young', `What's good about goodbye'. But we mustn't quibble over what's not there but appreciate the lovely 26 tracks we do have, now digitally restored on CD. Highly recommended.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ella and Billy May - sheer magic,
Ella's take on "That old black magic" is a joy.
"Let's take a walk around the block" is a track I had no knowledge of prior to buying this album - for me personally a hidden gem that I had to play over and over.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely sublime,
4.0 out of 5 stars so many classics,
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of this world,
A medida que avanzamos en los Songbooks de Ella, ellos se mejoran. La calidad del sonido y los arreglos de Billy May son inmejorables. Ni hablar de las interpretaciones y las canciones. Norman Granz hacía su trabajo en Verve con gran dedicación. Muy bueno.
5.0 out of 5 stars yet another great from ella,
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