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Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook
Ella Fitzgerald
Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Ella Fitzgerald
Title: Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Release Date: 10/28/1997
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Swing Jazz, Traditional Jazz & Ragtime, Vocal Jazz, Oldies, Vocal Pop, Classic Vocalists, Traditional Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 731453905726

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CD Reviews

Swing and sing along with Ella !!!
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 07/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ella Fitzgerald pays tribute to the great Johnny Mercer with this album of just a few of his greatest hits. Ella's tribute to Johnny is the only songbook she recorded for any lyricist--what an honor she paid to Mercer! Ella handles these beautiful numbers with sensitivity, grace and confidence. The CD proves her incredible vocal skills truly enhanced Johnny Mercer's artistry.

The CD track set begins with "Too Marvelous For Words." The big band style arrangement by Nelson Riddle swings right along with Ella's vocal gymnastics. Great! Ella's excellent diction remains constant as she performs "Too Marvelous For Words." Love that piano with the horns in the middle of "Too Marvelous For Words!" "Day In, Day Out" presents Ella as a co-star with Nelson Riddle's arrangement; together Ella's voice and the musicians complement each other perfectly. Ella even scats a bit! What a fantastic love ballad.

"Laura" comes from the movie of the same name; and the key changes on the musical arrangement work well. Ella sings this sweetly with great sensitivity which, combined with the music, gives "Laura" a haunting quality. Excellent! Ella swings ever so gently as she tells the story of how a man sees his former wife everywhere he goes. The horns and the strings bolster "Laura," too.

"Skylark" starts with a beautiful flute arrangement; when Ella comes in the number shines like polished gold! Ella swings gently just as she did on "Laura;" and this works wonders for "Skylark." On the other hand, "Something's Gotta Give" gives us a bouncy, upbeat number that swings brightly. Ella delivers this with all her heart and the effect is absolutely electric! Ella never misses a note; and Nelson Riddle's arrangement uses the horns and percussion to carry the bulk of the melody. Listen for that sax solo, too--it's flawless.

"Dream" features Ella singing a rarely heard opening verse. The arrangement backs up Ella while Ella takes the spotlight for "Dream." "Dream" is a romantic ballad; and the tempo is slightly faster than normal to add a bit of "bounce" and energy to this number. In addition, "I Remember You" gets the royal treatment from Ella and Nelson Riddle. "I Remember You" features Ella starting with a solo piano in the background and then the tune uses horns, Ella's vocals and a slower than normal tempo to make "I Remember You" a true masterpiece. Only Johnny Mercer could write lyrics like these!

The liner notes have a miniature replica of the reverse of the record album jacket with its essay about Ella and this album by Benny Green. Samuel Brylawski also contributes an essay about this album. The picture of Ella singing on the CD front cover shows good taste.

Ella Fitzgerald gives us a special, rare treat with her songbook album of numbers by the immortal Johnny Mercer. In Ella's competent hands, Johnny Mercer's lyrics shine brighter than ever before. Ella's flawless singing on this album will brighten your day as you listen and you'll know after you listen just once that this CD is a keeper.

I highly recommend this CD for Ella Fitzgerald fans, Johnny Mercer fans and people who enjoy classic pop vocals.
Ella sings what Johnny wrote...
Marc Flanagan | Santa Monica, Ca. | 10/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A legendary lyricist was Johnny Mercer, from the thirties "Hooray for Hollywood" to the sixties "Moon River", Mr. Mercer added his poetic vision to enhance beautiful melodies. Miss Fitzgerald recorded this tribute to, "The Man from Charleston", for Verve Records in her songbook cycle. I particularly like this one for, Mercer wrote lyrics with some of the best composers in America. The disc contains, "Midnight Sun" written by Lionel Hampton, "Laura" by David Raksin, "This Time The Dreams On Me" by Harold Arlen and Mercer's own music and lyrics, the haunting, "Dream". Great arrangements and Ella's impeccable phrasing add up to a sumptious tribute to a wonderful talent."
Too Marvelous For Words (Pure magic)
Olukayode Balogun | Leeds, England | 07/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I first came across the voice of Ella Fitzgerald via the 1988 movie Torch Song Trilogy. The movie was eye opening and life changing for me on so many levels. In a way, although of course I was unaware of it at the time, it was also a glimpse into my future. I wept for hours afterwards even though I didn't fully realise what I was weeping about. If only I knew then what I know now.

Anyway, Ella's "This Time The Dream's On Me" was used more than once during the course of the film and it also accompanied the closing credits. I fell in love with the song immediately. I was out searching for the soundtrack soon after but to my dismay when I eventually found it, the song was not listed. (I learned later that legal complications meant that the song couldn't be included). Further research and searching led to this songbook and I immediately bought it on vinyl. I couldn't get enough of Ella's voice after that and have since bought a considerable number of her albums on both vinyl and CD (I love the Songbooks especially) but somehow, this is the one I always keep coming back to. I've now finally got it on CD and while the cover art is different to what was on my LP version (although it is noted as the "original cover art"), I'm pleased to see that they have at least kept the songs in the same running order.

According to the sticker label on the front of the CD, "Johnny Mercer is the only only lyricist Ella saluted in her celebrated Songbook series. Benefiting from the brilliant arranging skills of Nelson Riddle, she once again summons her peerless gift for interpreting song - a lovely, and telling, album." This was also the last of Fitzgerald's songbooks for Verve.

As usual, it's the ballads that do it for me the most: "Early Autumn", "Day In, Day Out", "Laura", "This Time The Dream's On Me", "Skylark", "Single-O", "Trav'lin' Light", "Midnight Sun", "Dream", "I Remember You" and "When A Woman Loves A Man" all have to be heard to be believed. I simply don't have the words to adequately describe the magic on offer here. What I can say though, is that one of my favourite things about this album, aside from Ella's perfect pitch, exquisite phrasing and faultless timing, is the way she improvises on the melodies during the course of the songs. She was obviously much more than a singer; she was a jazz musician and her voice was her instrument. Nowhere is that more evident to me, than on this album.

As one might expect from Mercer songs, it's the lyrics that are especially worth looking out for here. "You're much too much, and just too very very/ To ever be, in Webster's dictionary," she sings in "Too Marvelous For Words", another of my favourites. But my best-loved song of all on here is "I Remember You". As someone who's suffered bereavement in the past, the lyrics have a personal significance. Ella sings: "When my life is through/ And the angels ask me to recall, the thrill of them all/ Then I shall tell them, I remember you."

Reduces me to tears every time.

Flawless production from Norman Granz and Nelson Riddle's orchestration is almost of another world. This is without a doubt, one of my favourite albums ever. Pure magic.

Also worth checking out is With My Lover Beside Me, an album Nancy Wilson did back in 1991, singing the lyrics of Johnny Mercer along to the music of Barry Manilow. It's a different kind of magic but magic nonetheless. Highly recommended."