77 Songs, 4 Hours 10 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

It’s a testament to how much music Ella Fitzgerald recorded, that these 76 sparkling, professionally recorded tunes were allowed to languish unheard for more than 50 years. As her phenomenally successful Songbook albums show, with the eternally bubbly Fitzgerald and her elegant little-girl voice it’s about the songs, and here there’s a sterling mix of stage and screen numbers like the Gershwins’ “S’Wonderful,” and Harold Arlen’s “The Old Black Magic,” big band numbers like Ellington’s “Perdido,” oddities like “Across the Alley From the Alamo,” and a stab at Thelonious Monk’s “`Round Midnight.” Even her best known tunes, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” and “Mack the Knife” get fresh, ingenious takes that are essential for Ella collectors. The whole set plays like a fast-moving jam session, loose and inventive with Fitzgerald full of energy and brio, her scatting tight and disciplined, and her sense of delight showing itself often, none better than in “Sunny Side of the Street,” when instead of the usual “Rockefeller” she sings, “I’d be rich as Frank Sinatra. A vivacious rarity.

EDITORS’ NOTES

It’s a testament to how much music Ella Fitzgerald recorded, that these 76 sparkling, professionally recorded tunes were allowed to languish unheard for more than 50 years. As her phenomenally successful Songbook albums show, with the eternally bubbly Fitzgerald and her elegant little-girl voice it’s about the songs, and here there’s a sterling mix of stage and screen numbers like the Gershwins’ “S’Wonderful,” and Harold Arlen’s “The Old Black Magic,” big band numbers like Ellington’s “Perdido,” oddities like “Across the Alley From the Alamo,” and a stab at Thelonious Monk’s “`Round Midnight.” Even her best known tunes, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” and “Mack the Knife” get fresh, ingenious takes that are essential for Ella collectors. The whole set plays like a fast-moving jam session, loose and inventive with Fitzgerald full of energy and brio, her scatting tight and disciplined, and her sense of delight showing itself often, none better than in “Sunny Side of the Street,” when instead of the usual “Rockefeller” she sings, “I’d be rich as Frank Sinatra. A vivacious rarity.

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