The great Ella Fitzgerald recorded, from 1956 to 1964, the songs of Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer in what is now known as the Song Book series. This 16-CD boxed set reproduces to the letter all eight of these classic albums and gathers them inside a clothbound box with a 48-page hardcover book. 245 tracks, with unreleased material.
This 16-CD set collects all of Ella Fitzgerald's Songbooks, a monumental tribute to the American popular song and its greatest composers, recorded for Verve between 1956 and 1964. There is likely no other singer possessed of the mix of talents that Fitzgerald brought to the project, a combination of sheer vocal technique, creativity in phrasing and rhythm, and fidelity to lyrics and intent. The sheer scale of the project contributes to its value, for Fitzgerald went far beyond the standard repertoire, rediscovering little-known gems by many of her subjects: Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Rodgers and Hart, Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin, and Duke Ellington. The discs of Ellington material still stand out, illuminated by the presence of Duke and his band. They put Ellington, a master melodist as well as a great composer, in his rightful place in the pantheon of American songwriters. --Stuart Broomer