Ella's Jerome Kern collection, with the singer in peak form backed by splendidly jazzy Nelson Riddle arrangements, is an essential component of her complete Verve Songbook masterwork, and a triumph of content over form. Coming late in the series, the project unfortunately received short shrift as a single-LP album whereas two or more discs had been the norm for prior Songbooks.
While the selection is an adequate sampling of Kern standards, there is simply not enough space on one disc to do justice to this great American composer's art. A multi-disc boxed set (similar to Fitzgerald's grandiose Gershwin and Ellington Songbooks), with material ranging from extensive selections from Show Boat and Roberta to lesser-known gems from the P. G. Wodehouse Princess Theater shows, would have been ideal for Kern; but alas! this was not to be, as the Verve Songbook series was then perceived as having run its course.
The magnificent performances of Fitzgerald and the Riddle orchestra more than atone. This album is absolutely not to be missed (for any reason) by followers of the artists, Kern, musical theatre or the American popular song.