Here is an instruction manual for singers. Phrasing, intonation, breath control, taste, musicianship, restraint, humor; it's all here. What with "jazz singing" wandering all over the lot as the century staggers to a close, let's hope that The Complete (what dimensions that phrase has in this context) Ella and Louis will be used for serious course work, and not just by beginners. The package contains everything from the LPs Ella & Louis, Ella and Louis Again and Porgy and Bess, plus two tracks of Fitzgerald sitting in with Armstrong's band at the Hollywood Bowl. The contrast between her polished perfection and his rough perfection is delicious. Armstrong's trumpet playing, nearing its last full burst of glory, is as moving as his voice.The songs are by the cream of American song writers, including Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Arlen, Ronnell, Duke and Kern. They have never been sung better.
This admittedly pricey – but by all means mandatory – Grammy Award-winning box set is the final word on the "songbooks" recorded by Ella Fitzgerald between 1956 and 1964. The audio contents have been completely remastered and each title has been expanded – wherever possible – to include previously unissued material.
This compact, stylishly packaged, three-disc box set delivers exactly what the title promises: every one of the 47 master tracks (including a few unreleased tracks) recorded by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong for Verve between August 1956 and October 1957. The jazz standards and pop songs on disc one and two are what gained the most attention at the time, and justifiably so - Fitzgerald and Armstrong are possibly the two greatest scat singers in jazz history, and under Norman Granz's magnificent tutelage, both perform at the best of their abilities.
During the late '50s, Ella Fitzgerald continued her Song Book records with Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Song Book, releasing a series of albums featuring 59 songs written by George and Ira Gershwin. Those songs, plus alternate takes, were combined on a four-disc box set, Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Song Book, in 1998. These performances are easily among Fitzgerald's very best, and for any serious fan, this is the ideal place to acquire the recordings, since the sound and presentation are equally classy and impressive.