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 The originators of songs that will never be out of date.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.
72 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?