Personnel includes: Ella Fitzgerald (vocals); Nelson Riddle (arranger, conductor); Russell Procope (alto saxophone, clarinet); Plas Johnson (tenor saxophone); Shorty Sherock (trumpet); Britt Woodman, Tommy Pederson (trombone); John Cave (French horn); Buddy Collette (flute); Gerald Vinci, Sidney Sharp (violin); David Sterkin, Paul Robyn (viola); Eleanor Slatkin (cello); Corky Hale (harp); Paul Smith (piano); Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis (guitar); Joe Mondragon (bass); Frank Flynn, Alvin Stoller (drums).
Includes liner notes by James Gavin.
Personnel: Ella Fitzgerald (vocals); Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Bob Bain (guitar); Corky Hale, Kathyrine Julye, Ann Mason Stockton, Veryle Brilhart (harp); Gerald Vinci, Mischa Russell, James Getzoff, Henry Hill , Felix Slatkin, Victor Bay, Erno Neufeld, Benny Gill, Jacques Gasselin, Lou Raderman, Murray Kellner, Alex Beller, Joe Stepansky, Dan Lube, Marshall Sosson, Sidney Sharp, Stuff Smith, Victor Arno, Israel Baker, Nathan Ross, Paul Shure, Walter Edelstein (violin); David Sterkin, Barbara Simons, Alex Neimann, Louis Kievman, Paul Robyn, Alvin Dinkin, Virginia Majewski (viola); James Arkatov, Elizabeth Greenschpoon, Armand Karpoff, George Neikrug, Edgar Lustgarten, Kurt Reher, Eleanor Slatkin, Ray Kramer (cello); Harry Klee, Wilbur Schwartz, Buddy Collette (flute, woodwinds); Bud Shank (flute); Harry Carney (clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone); Russell Procope (clarinet, alto saxophone); Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Abe Most, Buddy DeFranco (clarinet); Chuck Gentry (bass clarinet, bassoon, baritone saxophone); Arnold Koblentz (oboe, English horn); Norman Benno, Seymour Schoneberg (oboe); Howard Terry, Lloyd W. Hildebrand (bassoon); Champ Webb, Joe Koch (woodwinds); Milt Bernhart (alto saxophone, trombone); Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter (alto saxophone); Paul Gonsalves, Plas Johnson , Ted Nash, Babe Russin, Ben Webster (tenor saxophone); Clark Terry, Don Fagerquist, Carroll Lewis, George Seaberg, Vito Mangano, Dale McMickle, Ray Nance, Shorty Sherock, Willie Cook, Cat Anderson (trumpet); James A. Decker, William Hinshaw, Vincent DeRosa, John Cave (French horn); Richard L. Noel, Dick Nash , Quentin Jackson, Tommy Pederson , Tommy Shepard, John Sanders, Britt Woodman (trombone); George Roberts , Karl de Karske (bass trombone); Lou Levy, Paul Smith , Billy Strayhorn (piano); Milt Holland (marimba, glockenspiel, xylophone, timpani, background vocals); Bill Richmond, Frank Flynn , Alvin Stoller, Sam Woodyard, Irving Cottler (drums); Emil Radocchia (percussion).
Liner Note Author: James Gavin.
Recording information: Captiol Studios, LA, CA (02/07/1956-10/21/1964); New York, NY (02/07/1956-10/21/1964); Radio Recorders, LA, CA (02/07/1956-10/21/1964).
Unknown Contributor Role: Duke Ellington.
Arrangers: Walter Sheets; Nelson Riddle; Paul Weston; Buddy Bregman.
Though her career stretched from the '30s to the '80s and she's widely considered possibly the greatest female jazz singer or all time, Ella Fitzgerald will probably forever be best known for a mid-'50s collection of albums collectively called the Songbooks, where she devoted entire albums to the works of such composers as Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, and Duke Ellington. THE BEST OF THE SONGBOOKS: THE BALLADS is one of the many compilations based on these recordings, and one of the best.
From its beautiful, informative packaging to its gorgeously remastered sound, this 16-track, 64-minute collection treats the material with the respect it deserves. The material, of course, is first-rate, wall-to-wall standards from Johnny Mercer's wistful "Laura" to Ellington's sly "Do Nothin' Til You Hear From Me." Fitzgerald's performances are equally outstanding, as are the mostly big-band arrangements. This is as good as jazz ballad collections get.