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Sings Irving Berlin & Duke Ellington Songbooks Box set

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Sings Irving Berlin & Duke Ellington Songbooks
  • +
  • Sings The Porter, Rodgers & Hart Songbooks
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  • Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Songbook
Total price: £20.78
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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Jan. 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Now Now Music
  • ASIN: B001I1LQUI
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,893 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

Product Description

Ella Fitzgerald was, by any yardstick, a remarkable singer. She had achieved much by the time she signed to the newly created Verve Records in 1956, but it was the genius of Norman Granz, her personal manager, in suggesting that she tackle the material of great contemporary composers in themed albums that sent her career into orbit. Ella had the world at her feet during the late 1950s and early 1960s, recording her songbooks and delighting concert audiences across the globe. Featured here are the original Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington recordings, digitally remastered for optimum sound quality.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By C. FULLER TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Nov. 2008
Format: Audio CD
This 3 CD set is sure to find favour containing as it does 2 complete songbooks, Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington. Recorded in 1958 and 1957 these have been continually popular since their original release. The Irving Berlin album has Paul Weston conducting and the Duke Ellington songbook has Duke Ellington in command. I suspect that it is the Duke Ellington set that will make this an instant must have. The sound quality is excellent throughout and with 2 huge songbooks we are talking of an equally huge running time of almost 240 minutes. Interestingly if you want to purchase the Ellington Songbook it will cost at least twice the price alone, making this very good value indeed. As with all the Not Now 3CD sets they are now slim line packaged and this one includes orchestral credits, dates and liner notes by Michael Heatley. Look out for other Ella Fitzgerald releases on Not Now.
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Format: Audio CD
Read the other reviews and thought they must be exaggerated. I was very pleasantly surprised to find they were'nt. Well remastered these CDs are worth many times the asking price.
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Format: Audio CD
Great compilation of classic songs impeccably arranged and impeccably performed... You can't beat the best!
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By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 26 July 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Irving Berlin was a songwriter first and foremost, supplying other people with songs for them to record. He was not a success as a performer, though he had an American hit with a novelty song that I've never heard of in 1910. That song has obviously not stood the test of time, but plenty of his songs have done so.

Ella recorded 31 of Irving Berlin's songs for her songbook collection. The obvious omission is White Christmas, but she recorded that for a Christmas album and I'm comfortable about its omission here. Although I listen to Christmas music at any time of year for reviewing purposes, I think it works best when kept separate from other music. Some of the songs were intended for male singers and Ella made no attempt to adapt the lyrics, but I can live with that. There are many classic songs here including Let's face the music and dance, Let yourself go, Putting on the Ritz, Alexander's ragtime band, Cheek to cheek, Always, It's a lovely day today and I've got my love to keep me warm. Plenty of other people have recorded these songs but suffice to say that Ella's versions are every bit as good as I expected them to be and are therefore among the best. You are likely to recognize at least some of the songs I haven't mentioned, but Ella took the opportunity to record some less obvious songs.

By contrast, Duke Ellington was a jazz musician and band leader. He wrote songs for his own band to record, though he was happy enough for other people to cover the. He may even have written some songs for other people that he didn't record himself, as the Beatles did in the sixties, but I can't confirm that.
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The irving Berlin tracks are well presented, with a varied backing group. The Ellington orchestra are a bit scrappy at times, although
there are several excellent solo's from Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Ben and Jimmy Hamilton -' As Usual' !.
Never was very keen on Ray Nance's violin style though, which unfortunately is frequently featured.
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Bought as a cheaper way to get the Ellington songbook. Music excellent of course but the package excludes the Duke Ellington tribute to Ella (c 16 mins) and so is disappointing. Buy the separate songbooks to ensure completeness!!
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As this is only a three CD set, the compilers, for space reasons, have been unable to include the original albums in full. Missing from the Irving Berlin Songbook is 'Blue Skies' - one of Ella's finest performances. The Duke Ellington omissions are more serious. Two vocals by Ella - 'Chelsea Bridge' and the inspired 'D & E Blues' - are not here. In addition the instrumental suite Ellington wrote as a tribute to Ella has been left off. This latter includes on 'All Heart' one of the greatest trumpet solos ever recorded by Harold 'Shorty' Baker.

However what has been included is quite superb. Ella is in superb form throughout. Paul Weston leads a fine orchestra on the Irving Berlin tracks with first class solos from Juan Tizon and Harry Edson. Arrangement are ideal and the choice of numbers from the composers vast output make up a thoroughly enjoyable of uptempo tunes and ballads.

Half the Ellington tracks have Ella accompanied by his full band. There are some splendid solos - Johnny Hodges is outstanding - and the arrangements provide a perfect backdrop to the finest vocalist the Duke ever recorded with. The balance are with a small band lead by Oscar Peterson. Ben Webster's tenor is quite superb - his solo on 'Cottontail' is easily as fine as that he recorded with the full Ellington band in the 1940's. Ella is in superb form and the whole album on of the finest of the Songbook series.

A fine album unfortunately spoilt by the omissions for which reason I have deducted a star.
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This set is excllent value and has been very well transcribed from the original sources. There are only a very few minor audio glitches that do not in any way detract from the music etc.

The first disc and-a-bit, is devoted to the music of Irving Berlin, a genuis without doubt. Ella's singing here is first class. Alhtough one normally thinks of her as a jazz singer who does well with up tempo numbers, she is nevertheless very effective with the Berlin ballads, i.e Always and How about me ? for example.

The Ellington tracks which fill the remainder of disc 2 and the whole of disc 3, are also excelent. Some of it has examples of her scat singing, which is not a favourite of mine, but the rest of the tracks are well worth listening to.

A real treat indeed !
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