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Ella Fitzgerald sings the Rodgers and Hart Song Book Import, Original recording remastered

4.9 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Ella Fitzgerald - Sings The Rodgers And Hart Song Book - Double Cd

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Only Frank Sinatra has put his indelible stamp on as many pages of the American Popular Songbook as Ella Fitzgerald. But while Sinatra specialized in mood-themed albums (his composer-based collections were compiled from material already released), Fitzgerald's ambitious songbooks devoted themselves to one great songwriter after another: Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, and so on. Her two-volume Rodgers and Hart project ranks with the best, and if Buddy Bergman's arrangements are a bit sweeter than his Cole Porter settings, or Nelson Riddle's Gershwin treatments, they suit the material just fine. And what a wide range of material it is (with original verses intact!), intermingling novelty show tunes ("Give It Back to the Indians," "Johnny One Note"), sophisticated standards ("Manhattan," "Blue Moon," "The Lady Is a Tramp"), and lush ballads ("Isn't It Romantic," "It Never Entered My Mind"). But the most exquisite thing Fitzgerald ever recorded is her seven-minute "Bewitched" (a.k.a. "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered") on volume 2, casting a spell of hushed reverie that makes time stand still. --Jim Emerson
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 20, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Imports
  • ASIN: B0000047EH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,333 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Although neither the first nor the most fêted of Ella Fitzgerald's Songbooks, this collection drawn from the huge output of Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers is unquestionably the best. What sets the Rodgers and Hart Songbook apart from the other albums in the series that Ella recorded for Norman Granz's Verve label, quite simply, is the quality of the material that she had to work with. Her voice was such a magisterial instrument and her command of the expressive power of words so subtle that she seldom performed anything which drew on the full scope all her abilities. In the course of this double album, we get to see every facet of her talent. With Hart and Rodgers, Ella's enormous generosity of spirit, her love for song and for singing, her sheer humanity are put wholeheartedly at the disposal of very great music. Make no mistake, this is a desert island album. Richard Rodgers is most widely known for his nicely conceived but largely undemanding settings of the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein - above all, perhaps, in 'Oklahoma' and 'The Sound of Music.' However, it has been recognised by many, especially jazz musicians, that Rodgers' earlier work with Lorenz Hart shows the full measure of his talents. When he worked with Hammerstein, the lyrics came first: the notoriously elusive Hart, on the other hand, preferred to write words for tunes that had already been composed. Before he was constrained by Hammerstein's trite little rhymes, Rodgers produced pieces that, among the great Broadway composers, are equalled in melodic suppleness and harmonic variety only by Jerome Kern. Hart, in return, wrote lyrics that are by turns scintillating in their wit and searing in their poignancy. Some of his experiments in rhyme are deliciously knowing: "Beans could get no keener re/ception in a beanery ...Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
I've had both CDs in this set in my car for weeks and I can't move on! The combination of Ella Fitzgerald's instrument and Rodgers and Hart's songs is incomparable. I also like the variety Buddy Bregman's arrangements add to the whole package. In my opinion, the hallmark of Rodgers and Hart is the smart, quirky lyrics and patterns, not to mention the beautiful melodies. Try "Dancing on the Ceiling" to see what I'm getting at. There's even a touch of the bawdy in that Ella does all of "Bewitched" (other artists usually sing about half); "Horizontally speaking, he's at his very best." Wow! Other standouts in this collection are "With a Song in My Heart," "Where or When" and of course, "My Funny Valentine." This may be the best CD I've bought in years. I could listen to it all day, oh wait, I do listen to it all day!
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Format: Audio CD
Billie Holiday may have plumbed greater depths of despair, and Frank Sinatra may have cornered the market on romantic longing. But when it came to sunniness and sassiness--as well as beautiful tone, perfect pitch and diction so perfect that lyric sheets were made superfluous--nobody could hold a candle to wonderful, fabulous Ella Fitzgerald. Her special talents made her uniquely gifted as an interpreter of the songs of Rodgers and Hart. No one else could put Hart's witty lyrics across with such gleeful force while doing full justice to Rodgers's exquisite melodies. The fun she has with songs such as "Everything I've Got Belongs to You" or "To Keep My Love Alive" is transparent, as is the melting beauty she brings to romantic ballads like "Where or When" and "Isn't It Romantic." Her performance of "The Lady is a Tramp" is one of the enduring classics in the history of American popular music. And those who claim that Ella lacked the insight into lyrics that Lady Day and Sinatra possessed will be confounded by her performance of "I Wish I Were in Love Again." Sassy good humor, mixed with worldly wisdom: Dorothy Parker was never so insightful.
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Format: Audio CD
"If they asked me
I could write a book
About the way you walk
And whisper and look
I could write a preface on how we met
So the world will never forget
And the simple secret of the plot
Is just to tell them that I love you a lot." ~ I Could Write A Book ~ Rodgers & Hart

A music critic, William Simon, described the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald, as a musician with ear, instinct and training who never actually has been instructed in vocal technique and yet she can command such breath control, can shape a tone with such color sense, and with such flawless intonation.

She was once called "A Melody's Best Friend" for her special ability to turn an ordinary song into extraordinary with her outstanding vocal artistry and her creativity in scat singing. Ms. Fitzgerald's elegant interpretations and Buddy Bregman's striking arrangements of these appealing melodies from Richard Rodgers and the meaningful lyrics from Lorenz Hart truly made this album worthy to any listener who appreciates great music.

On Liner Notes' Foreword, Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the following about music.

"Music is a difficult subject - anybody's music. Words are easier to analyze. Everyone speaks and writes words. Few can write music. Its creation is a mystery. There are mathematical principles to guide its construction, but no mere knowledge of these can produce the emotional eloquence some music attains. We are made sad or happy, romantic, thoughtful, disturbed or peaceful by someone else's singing heart. To me this is a most exciting and inexplicable phenomenon.
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