Personnel includes: Ella Fitzgerald (vocals); Wilie Smith (alto saxophone); Ben Webster (tenor saxophone); Buddy DeFranco (clarinet); Stuff Smith (violin); Paul Smith (piano); Barney Kessel (guitar); Joe Mondragon (bass); Alvin Stoller (drums); Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Paul Weston Orchestra, Buddy Bregman Orchestra, Billy May Orchestra.
Recorded between 1956 and 1964. Includes liner notes by Geoffrey Mark Fidelman.
THE BEST OF THE SONG BOOKS contains 16 Fitzgerald performances culled from the 8-volume, 16-CD Verve Song Book series, which spotlights Fitzgerald's interpretations of tunes by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer and Cole Porter.
Personnel: Ella Fitzgerald (vocals); John Collins, Al Hendrickson, Barney Kessel (guitar); Stuff Smith (violin); Russell Procope (clarinet, alto saxophone); Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Buddy DeFranco (clarinet); Harry Carney (bass clarinet, baritone saxophone); Johnny Hodges, Ted Nash, Willie Smith (alto saxophone); Paul Gonsalves, Ben Webster, Bob Cooper (tenor saxophone); Clark Terry, Don Fagerquist, Ray Nance, Willie Cook, Cat Anderson (trumpet); Quentin Jackson, John Sanders, Britt Woodman (trombone); Duke Ellington, Paul Smith (piano); Frank Flynn , Larry Bunker (vibraphone); Alvin Stoller, Sam Woodyard (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Phil Schaap.
Liner Note Author: Geoffrey Mark Fidelman.
Recording information: Los Angeles, CA (02/07/1956-10/??/1964); New York, NY (02/07/1956-10/??/1964).
Editor: Peter Pullman.
Photographer: Popsy Randolph.
Unknown Contributor Role: Jon Schapiro.
Arrangers: Nelson Riddle; Paul Weston; Buddy Bregman.
Considering the enormity of the task, the good compilers at Verve have done a fine job picking the "best" of Ella Fitzgerald's massive seven-composer Songbook series. In fact, there are more than few other collections drawn from the Songbooks, two of which, BALLADS and LOVE SONGS, previously combined with the more general THE BEST OF THE SONGBOOKS to make up a limited edition 3-CD box set. All three titles are now only available as individual discs.
That said, a representative sampler like this is an excellent place to begin exploring Fitzgerald's great recordings for Verve. The opener "Something's Gotta Give" (Mercer), "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" (Arlen) and "Cottontail" (Ellington) capture Ella at her most virtuosic, scat-singing to the point of abandon but still utterly relaxed and musicianly. On the slow side, fans of the Gershwins' "Love Is Here To Stay" should delight in the singer's near-definitive version as well as the other selections from her monumental Gershwin set, "'S Wonderful" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me."