Mojo (Publisher) - 2/01, p.102
"...Indispensable....the rhythm section swings fine and the 32 songs are beautifully selected, from the obvious...to the obscure..."
Personnel includes: Ella Fitzgerald (vocals); Paul Weston (conductor); Ted Nash (tenor saxophone, flute, woodwinds); Babe Russin (tenor saxophone, flute); Chuck Gentry (baritone saxophone, woodwinds); John Best, Pete Candoli, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Don Fagerquist, Manny Klein (trumpet); Ed Kusby, Dick Noel, William Schaefer (trombone); Juan Tizol (valve trombone); Matty Matlock, Fred Stulce (flute, clarinet, woodwinds); Leonard Hartman (flute); Gene Cipriano (woodwinds); Paul Smith (piano); Barney Kessel (guitar); Joe Mondragon, Jack Ryan (bass); Alvin Stoller (drums).
Producer: Norman Granz.
Reissue producer: Bryan Koniarz.
Recorded at Radio Recorders, Hollywood, California in March 1958. Originally released on Verve (6005). Includes liner notes by James Gavin and Nat Hentoff.
Digitally remastered using 24-bit technology by Andrew Nicholas and Chris Corley.
This is part of the Verve Master Edition series.
Personnel: Ella Fitzgerald (vocals); Barney Kessel (guitar); Chuck Gentry, Gene Cipriano, Leonard Hartman, Matty Matlock, Ted Nash, Babe Russin, Fred Stulce (woodwinds); Manny Klein, Don Fagerquist, John Best , Harry "Sweets" Edison , Pete Candoli (trumpet); Dick Noel, William Schaefer, Eddie Kusby (trombone); Juan Tizol (valve trombone); Paul Smith (piano); Alvin Stoller (drums).
Liner Note Author: James Gavin.
Recording information: Hollywood, CA (03/13/1958-03/18/1958).
Editor: Peter Keepnews.
Photographer: Herman Leonard.
Arranger: Paul Weston.
It is difficult to know where to begin when approaching an artist as wonderful as Ella Fitzgerald, especially when covering a revered recording like Sings the Irving Berlin Song Book from the late '50s. This set includes two CDs with 32 songs chosen from Berlin's collection of nearly 800 songs. These selections are perfectly suited for Fitzgerald's voice and her romantic sensibility; they are happy, occasionally sad, and full of swinging rhythm. A few of these songs -- "Cheek to Cheek," "Puttin' on the Ritz," and "Blue Skies" -- will be most familiar; others, "Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails," "Russian Lullaby," and "All By Myself" are as memorable but perhaps less known. Choices like "Isn't This a Lovely Day?" feature everything a listener would want in a song: intelligent lyrics, memorable melodies, and a strong emotional center. To say that Fitzgerald is in good voice for these recordings would be an understatement; her presentation here is simply regal. It should be pointed out that these two- and three-minute tunes are tightly arranged, and don't allow the freedom of extended scat singing as on Ella in Berlin. The arrangements are also lovely, featuring the tasteful support of Paul Weston & His Orchestra, which never overpowers Fitzgerald. Such songs as "Cheek to Cheek" and "How Deep Is the Ocean?" -- the standards that once dominated singers' repertoires -- seem absent from today's musical scene. That may be unfortunate, but they continue to live healthy lives in recordings like this one. For fans who have enjoyed other songbook recordings, this reissue is a must-have; for those unfamiliar with Fitzgerald's songbook work, this is an excellent place to start. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.