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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2003
I rarely write reviews of products (they speak for themselves) but after readings "Brian"'s review of this recording, I felt compelled. (Brian must be among the group of people who like to criticize just to make themselves feel better... they feel themselves authorities in some manner). Ella Fitzgerald singing the Gershwin Songbook has to be in the top two recorded piceces of popular music of all time ("Judy at Carnegie" is the only other contender for number one). There is no other artist who captures the essence of the Gershwins as Ella in this set. The orchestration is full and rich ,but does not distract from Ella's voice. The scores are kept authentic... Ella does not try to "sell" or "personalize" the songs like Sinatra did with Cole Porter's music. Yes, there are some Gershwin tunes here that the masses may not have heard, but that doesn't make them less valuable than the "Lady Be Good"'s and the "They Can't Take that Away from Me"'s. The art of music is in interpretation and Ella interprets Gershwin like no other. Where else have you heard Gershwin so completely and purely interpreted? I challenge anyone to find a similar recording, period. ***** is not high enough.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
If I had to flee my pad with only one item, it would be this box set. O.k, that's kind of cheating because I'd be taking more than CD out with me, but what the heck -- it's my place going up in smoke, isn't it? Ella's silky yet crystal-clear voice with perfect intonation and inflection, combined with the unsurpassable songs of George and Ira Gershwin and the orchestrations of Nelson Riddle make this a classic in every sense of the word. If at least three of the songs in this box set don't give you goosebumps I will come over and mow your lawn. The ending of "The Man I Love" will propel you into the troposphere. This set is a once-in-a-century combination of musical talent. It is a pure joy.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2001
Reading the only one-star review of this album (very partial indeed), I felt it was my obligation to clarify some points that were misjudged by an unskillful person who only wants to attack Ella Fitzgerald: 1- This is a songbook, not an original Broadway cast album; it is written in the box. If you buy an album that is a songbook and you do not like songbooks, you are blind or you cannot read. 2- Fifty-some songs presented here (some with original verses never heard before) with a variety of ideas (not an easy task) only made possible by the enormous talent of Nelson Riddle; 3- This is a masterpiece recognized by the public and the serious critics; 4- This album was recorded by Ella Fitzgerald; 5- Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday do not appear here; 6- Frank Sinatra was a great popular singer; 7- Billie Holiday was a great jazz singer; 8- Ella Fitzgerald was a great pop AND jazz singer, by the way, the greatest of them all. Good records and bad records every artist have them. It is silly to say that every album that Mr, Sinatra recorded is a gem. Only in the limited eyes of a fan. I say: forget the doo bee doo bees of Mr Sinatra. Listen to Ella's Angel Eyes. It is by far better than his. 9- A timeless classic. Get it. If you want one free, ask the person of the one-star review. He or she probably wants to get rid of it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 30, 2001
YOU MUST BUY THIS CD...Anyone not familiar with the three names above, who wants to hear great songs by the Great Gershwins in a nice,whizbang set will go bonkers over Ella singing these tunes with the great Nelson Riddle arranging.In fact,no other straight Gershwin set comes close.Remember, these tunes were written in the 1920's-1930's. They are as fresh now as ever,and this CD collection proves it.True,a couple of them(say "I've Got You Under My Skin","Love is Here to Stay") have had better interpretations(mainly Frank and Nelson a year or two earlier).But,still this CD is loaded with freshness,wit,humor,and razzle dazzle bounciness.For swingers don't miss "Things are Looking Up","Who Cares","Soon","Of Thee I Sing","You've Got What Gets Me",and my favorite "Slap that Bass." The greatness here is that many of these songs have not been recorded over and over,so that many listeners,even jazz fans,may hear some (seemingly)brand new tunes.In fact,every song here is worth repeat listenings,and there are NO duds here,amazing for a 53-song CD.The ballads are just as good, from the familiar like "The Man I Love","A Foggy Day",to less known pieces like "Oh So Nice Nice",and "My One and Only". After hearing this CD you'll realize why Ella was called the "First Lady of Song".This is a timeless collection,I think Ella's tip top. And listen to the lyrics too,some of the most amusing and at times heart rending ever composed.The sad thing is that one will spend a freezing day you know where before hearing anything like this in the new song scene today.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 1998
Originally released having the honor as being the first stereo recordings,they were released separately as five separate albums in 1959, these gems preformed by Ella Fitzzgerald and Nelson Riddle have undergone many changes, being released later as an LP Boxed set, and a three CD set, down to the current release, yet they remain evergreen in American Popular Music. The world heard many previously unrecorded Gershwin songs such as "The Real American Folk Song" and "Just Another Rhumba". Ella Fitzgerald released a series of American Songbooks, which she would late expand to include Antonio Carlos Jobim. In these albums with exception of the last (not in the Verve series) she was in great voice, and introduced the American culture of the late 50's and early 60's to the great composers of the 20's and 30's. The combination of Ella and Nelson Riddle on these cuts is a combination that is hard to beat, Great intpertations of songs like "S'Wonderful" from Funny Face are comparable to the Frank Sinatra/Riddle recording of Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin". A truly great recording, of two of America's treasures.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 1998
If there was a more ambitious, more thoroughly enjoyable album in the history of the recording business, I don't know what it was. Regardless of your musical tastes, this album is one you will play over and over again. Nelson Riddle's arrangments do so much to make this compilation of Gershwin tunes a smashing success. Ella was at the top of her career when the album was recorded. She never sounded better. It is hard to believe that these recordings are nearly a half century old. Truly, this is the finest album every recorded by anyone, the Album of the Century.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2000
Believe the raves of other critics. The music does not get any better than this. Ella phrases like no one else. Her interpretations of the Gershwin tunes are as good as it gets.
I cannot go through the list of songs here; the 1,000 word limit makes the proper commentary impossible (and, Amazon has done this for us). Suffice it so say that you will find some of your favorites here, and you will be able to acquaint yourself with some new favorites.
"Someone to Watch Over Me": most certainly the angels who do watch sound like her. "I've Got A Crush on You" is a classic. Her rhythms are facsinating, and our love for her is here to stay.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2003
I rarely write reviews of products (they speak for themselves) but after readings "Brian"'s review of this recording, I felt compelled. (Brian must be among the group of people who like to criticize just to make themselves feel better... they feel themselves authorities in some manner). Ella Fitzgerald singing the Gershwin Songbook has to be in the top two recorded piceces of popular music of all time ("Judy at Carnegie" is the only other contender for number one). There is no other artist who captures the essence of the Gershwins as Ella in this set. The orchestration is full and rich ,but does not distract from Ella's voice. The scores are kept authentic... Ella does not try to "sell" or "personalize" the songs like Sinatra did with Cole Porter's music. Yes, there are some Gershwin tunes here that the masses may not have heard, but that doesn't make them less valuable than the "Lady Be Good"'s and the "They Can't Take that Away from Me"'s. The art of music is in interpretation and Ella interprets Gershwin like no other. Where else have you heard Gershwin so completely and purely interpreted? I challenge anyone to find a similar recording, period. ***** is not high enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2012
This is generally acknowledged as the greatest of the eight superb selections that Ella Fitzgerald made from the Great American Songbook. Good though the first two volumes were, Norman Granz as producer excelled himself here because he was able to secure the services of Nelson Riddle as arranger and orchestral director. Andre Previn once remarked that these were the greatest selection of popular arrangements in one album he had ever heard.

The versatility of Nelson Riddle's arrangements would astonish anyone not familiar with his talents. It was he who resurrected Frank Sinatra's singing career in the early 1950s after he had been in the doldrums for several years after his `bobby-soxer' success in the early 1940s. In the 1940s Nat `King' Cole was known and respected as a great jazz pianist with his Trio. But then he started singing and the fans wanted more. It was Nelson Riddle who developed his career at Capitol Records too in the early 1950s. Riddle has accompanied pop singers like Linda Ronstadt and opera stars like Kiri te Kanawa. He has arranged numerous tunes on record in different styles for different artists. All this breadth of talent and experience expresses itself here.

George Gershwin's melodies with lyrics most often by his brother Ira are some of the best known and most performed in the popular music repertoire. In this selection we are treated to nearly 60 tunes and a number of alternative takes of popular numbers like `But not for me' and (perhaps not the most appropriate selection for Ella) `Lady be good'. Nelson has added an orchestral version of The Ambulatory Suite (remember Astaire `Walking the dog' on deck in the movie with Ginger Rogers, Shall We Dance?) and also orchestrated Gershwin's Three Piano Preludes. Sopme of the tunes are not Gershwin at his best - 'My Cousin in Milwaukee' and 'Stiff Upper Lip' for example.

But the star of the show is of course Ella Fitzgerald, though superbly supported by Nelson Riddle and the orchestra. With 60 tunes to choose from, what do I pick as examples? Certainly, `The real American folk-song' is unique, featuring as it does the `honky-tonk' piano playing (according to the booklet) of Paul Smith, who accompanied Ella on another LP/CD. `For you, for me, for evermore' is not heard as much as it should be I think. `Love is here to stay' and `Embraceable you' are long-standing favourites. There are so many more outstanding performances. Just buy and enjoy!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2003
I rarely write reviews of products (they speak for themselves) but after readings "Brian"'s review of this recording, I felt compelled. (Brian must be among the group of people who like to criticize just to make themselves feel better... they feel themselves authorities in some manner). Ella Fitzgerald singing the Gershwin Songbook has to be in the top two recorded piceces of popular music of all time ("Judy at Carnegie" is the only other contender for number one). There is no other artist who captures the essence of the Gershwins as Ella in this set. The orchestration is full and rich ,but does not distract from Ella's voice. The scores are kept authentic... Ella does not try to "sell" or "personalize" the songs like Sinatra did with Cole Porter's music. Yes, there are some Gershwin tunes here that the masses may not have heard, but that doesn't make them less valuable than the "Lady Be Good"'s and the "They Can't Take that Away from Me"'s. The art of music is in interpretation and Ella interprets Gershwin like no other. Where else have you heard Gershwin so completely and purely interpreted? I challenge anyone to find a similar recording, period. ***** is not high enough.
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