Ella Fitzgerald, The Complete Original Song Books

Unreservedly love this artist. So inspiring on so many levels. Thank god for Ella!

I listen to music all day, all night while painting. My main musical sustenance is classical; Bach and Beethoven, and post-romanticist Puccini, sprinkled with many composers like Debussy, and performers like Callas. My library (Amazon Music) has no contemporary artists, no Taylor Swift, no pop artists like Michel Jackson or Madonna. No artists I grew up with, no Beetles, no Beachboys. I don’t care for jazz, Broadway, or operetta. Frank Sinatra doesn’t do much for me. But I love Ella Fitzgerald. For me, she is a genius that shines like no other popular singer.

In an eight year period, 1956-64, she recorded eight Verve studio recordings of the American Song Book. It is an insanely great accomplishment: 244 songs, 14 hours and 28 minutes. By songwriters George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Duke Ellington, Rogers and Hart, Johnny Mercer, and Cole Porter. The arrangements and the accompaniment sound incredibly natural — natural in the way that Beethoven symphonies sound right. I think you know what I mean, when you hear a 70’s pop song it sounds like it is riding on flavor of the moment. These songs sound … like they came from, not a decade, but from heaven.

It has been said that Frank Sinatra blocked his recording company from repackaging his catalog in a similar vain, either out of respect for Ella, or not wanting to be the foiled by comparison.

What startles me is that quality of everything about these recordings is so good. It seems that Ella interruptions are definitive, it is very difficult for me to unreservedly enjoy other singers singing the same songs. If you don’t know Ella, wow, I hope you enjoy the introduction, and for those that do I hope you enjoy the confirmation.

Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 12/19/2020

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