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Ella Fitzgerald sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook

Ella Fitzgerald sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook (complete recording) with sheet music

Tracklist:

1 | 00:00 | Ella Fitzgerald – Manhattan 2 | 02:50 | Ella Fitzgerald – I Concentrate On You 3 | 06:04 | Ella Fitzgerald – All Through The Night 4 | 09:22 | Ella Fitzgerald – Anything Goes 5 | 12:44 | Ella Fitzgerald – I Get A Kick Out Of You 6 | 16:46 | Ella Fitzgerald – Ridin’ High 7 | 20:08 | Ella Fitzgerald – You’re the Top 8 | 23:43 | Ella Fitzgerald – Little Girl Blue 9 | 27:38 | Ella Fitzgerald – Lover 10 | 30:55 | Ella Fitzgerald – Here In My Arms

11 | 32:48 | Ella Fitzgerald – Begin the Beguine 12 | 36:27 | Ella Fitzgerald – Bewitched, Bothered, And Bewildered 13 | 43:30 | Ella Fitzgerald – Ace In The Hole 14 | 45:30 | Ella Fitzgerald – Always True To You In My Fashion 15 | 48:20 | Ella Fitzgerald – To Keep My Love Alive 16 | 51:56 | Ella Fitzgerald – So In Love 17 | 55:48 | Ella Fitzgerald – Just One Of Those Things 18 | 59:20 | Ella Fitzgerald – Night and Day 19 | 1:02:26 | Ella Fitzgerald – It Never Entered My Mind 20 | 1:06:34 | Ella Fitzgerald – My Funny Valentine

21 | 1:10:28 | Ella Fitzgerald – I Am in Love 22 | 1:14:36 | Ella Fitzgerald – In The Still Of The Night 23 | 1:17:16 | Ella Fitzgerald – Too Darn Hot 24 | 1:21:05 | Ella Fitzgerald – Have You Met Miss Jones? 25 | 1:24:48 | Ella Fitzgerald – The Lady Is a Tramp 26 | 1:28:12 | Ella Fitzgerald – I Wish I Were in Love Again 27 | 1:30:51 | Ella Fitzgerald – I Didn’t Know What Time It Was 28 | 1:34:39 | Ella Fitzgerald – My Heart Stood Still 29 | 1:37:44 | Ella Fitzgerald – Wait Till You See Him 30 | 1:39:16 | Ella Fitzgerald – Thou Swell

31 | 1:41:20 | Ella Fitzgerald – My Romance 32 | 1:45:05 | Ella Fitzgerald – It’s All Right With Me 33 | 1:48:14 | Ella Fitzgerald – Why Can’t You Behave? 34 | 1:53:20 | Ella Fitzgerald – I Love Paris 35 | 1:58:19 | Ella Fitzgerald – Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye 36 | 2:01:54 | Ella Fitzgerald – All of You 37 | 2:03:38 | Ella Fitzgerald – It’s De-Lovely 38 | 2:06:22 | Ella Fitzgerald – Love For Sale 39 | 2:12:17 | Ella Fitzgerald – Miss Otis Regrets (She’s Unable To Lunch Today) 40 | 2:15:18 | Ella Fitzgerald – You Took Advantage of Me

41 | 2:18:48 | Ella Fitzgerald – Give It Back To The Indians 42 | 2:22:00 | Ella Fitzgerald – I Could Write A Book 43 | 2:25:40 | Ella Fitzgerald – Do I Love You? 44 | 2:29:31 | Ella Fitzgerald – Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love) 45 | 2:33:05 | Ella Fitzgerald – Get Out Of Town 46 | 2:36:30 | Ella Fitzgerald – A Ship Without A Sail 47 | 2:40:39 | Ella Fitzgerald – Johnny One Note 48 | 2:42:53 | Ella Fitzgerald – This Can’t Be Love 49 | 2:45:50 | Ella Fitzgerald – Ten Cents A Dance 50 | 2:49:58 | Ella Fitzgerald – The Blue Room

51 | 2:52:29 | Ella Fitzgerald – Mountain Greenery 52 | 2:54:45 | Ella Fitzgerald – Isn’t It Romantic 53 | 2:57:47 | Ella Fitzgerald – From This Moment On 54 | 3:01:06 | Ella Fitzgerald – You Do Something To Me 55 | 3:03:29 | Ella Fitzgerald – Easy To Love 56 | 3:06:56 | Ella Fitzgerald – Spring is Here 57 | 3:10:36 | Ella Fitzgerald – Where Or When 58 | 3:13:24 | Ella Fitzgerald – Ev’rything I’ve Got 59 | 3:16:47 | Ella Fitzgerald – Blue Moon 60 | 3:20:00 | Ella Fitzgerald – I’ve Got Five Dollars

61 | 3:22:41 | Ella Fitzgerald – Don’t Fence Me In 62 | 3:26:02 | Ella Fitzgerald – What Is This Thing Called Love 63 | 3:28:08 | Ella Fitzgerald – There’s A Small Hotel 64 | 3:30:57 | Ella Fitzgerald – With A Song In My Heart 65 | 3:33:43 | Ella Fitzgerald – I’ve Got You Under My Skin 66 | 3:36:27 | Ella Fitzgerald – Dancing on the Ceiling

Sheet Music available in our Library.

Background

The Great American Songbook—songs written from the 1920’s to the 1950’s by giants such as Cole Porter, Rogers & Hart, Duke Ellington and the Gershwin brothers—has inspired jazz musicians and singers for generations, supplying the raw material for endless improvisation. In listening to jazz, a good rule of thumb is “Know the song and you’re halfway there.”

The album

Like the Porter album, which was recorded in the same year, this 2-disc set is a treasure chest of classic songs, performed by singer Ella Fitzgerald when her voice was at its best. And, as with the Porter album, the arrangements by Buddy Bregman are alternately silky and swinging.

A few of Fitzgerald’s renditions are simply stellar, making the set more than worth having. But with 35 songs on the two discs, there are bound to be a few strikeouts. Some of the other songs are pleasant enough, but you can find more satisfying versions by other singers. I’ll note those, and provide “alternate takes”—different singers, different circumstances —that you can sample on YouTube. So use this Fitzgerald compilation as a must-have primer on Rogers and Hart, but also as a jumping off point for exploring the songs further.

The songs

“Manhattan”

Success came early to Rogers & Hart. Their first hit show, “Garrick Gaieties,” opened on Broadway in 1925, when Rogers was 23, Hart 30—a couple of middle-class New York kids making it big, just like in the movies.

In the show’s most popular song, “Manhattan,” a couple of imaginary New York kids, too poor for a vacation, vow to take advantage of the city instead, turning Manhattan into “an Isle of Joy.” But of course it’s tongue in cheek. As in, “The subway charms us so, when balmy breezes blow.” The breeze in the subway—before air conditioning and underarm deodorant—would have choked, not charmed. Another line asks, “And tell me what street compares with Mott Street in July, sweet pushcarts gently gliding by.” The allusion to Venetian gondolas is wonderful, but in the real Mott Street, those iron wheels screeched on hot cobblestones dappled with horse droppings. Now there’s charm for you.

But it’s the song that charms us. On one level it’s about innocence, about imagination in the face of adversity, and that’s how Fitzgerald delivers it. You won’t find a better version than this one, despite the cutesy violins. But because imagination can’t completely obscure reality (the subway, the pushcarts), there’s a wry undertone in “Manhattan,” a dash of bitters to offset the sweetness of Fitzgerald’s delivery.

“Isn’t it Romantic?”

By all accounts, Larry Hart’s life was mired in guilt and self-loathing. A deeply closeted homosexual and unremitting alcoholic, repulsed by his own appearance, Hart saw himself as unlovable. Yet he created some of the most beautiful evocations of love in American music, as in this song, from the 1932 movie “Love Me Tonight.” Fitzgerald serves it as a sweet but bland dish, missing much of the passion in Hart’s words.

“I Wish I Were in Love Again”

To sample the range of feeling Hart could call on, listen to this song right after “Isn’t it Romantic.” Written for the 1937 musical “Babes in Arms,” this is a really nasty piece of work, almost gleefully so. As in, “When love congeals, it soon reveals the faint aroma of performing seals…” And in “The words ‘I love you till the day I die,’ the self-deception that believes the lie…” Given those lines, there’s a strange sprightliness to Bregman’s arrangement and Fitzgerald’s dulcet delivery, as though they just can’t summon up the proper venom. To paraphrase the old Hollywood cliché, “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a song like this?”

“It Never Entered My Mind”

From the short-lived 1940 musical “Higher and Higher,” this is one of the most poignant songs of regret in the Great American Songbook. The melody is somber, with lyrics to match. Notice how Hart paints a perfect picture of anxiety (or is it depression?) in just five words: “Uneasy in my easy chair…” And how he conveys sleeplessness and regret in a way most of us can understand: … “That I’d awaken with the sun, and order orange juice for one, it never entered my mind…”

Fitzgerald’s rendition is flawless: quiet, reflective, sad but not bitter. This one’s a keeper.

“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”

Another keeper, this one from the long-lasting and oft-revived show “Pal Joey.” Fitzgerald is in her element here. Like “It Never Entered My Mind,” “Bewitched” is a rumination on weakness and regret, and Fitzgerald paints the picture in similar shades. She also includes all the words, a rare treat. You won’t do better on this one.

“Mountain Greenery”

Written when Rogers & Hart were a couple of kids (“Garrick Gaieties” again), this just might be the happiest, funniest, cleverest piece of work in the entire Songbook. Hart’s words for “Greenery” seem to have burst from his imagination like the contents of a poetic piñata, overflowing with jokes, internal rhymes, even literary references. And best of all, the song’s lightheartedness is leavened with love.

Like nearly all Rogers & Hart songs, “Greenery” is about city dwellers. In this case, a pair of them anticipate a picnic in the country, a destination they view as strange and exciting, with “scenery,” mosquitoes and hard boulders. So listen and chuckle. Start with “how we love sequestering, where no pests are pestering…” and go from there.

Sadly, the Fitzgerald/Bregman version of “Greenery” omits some of Hart’s best lines. For the full treatment, go straight to Mel Torme at Marty’s (see below).

Personnel

Ella Fitzgerald: Vocals; Buddy Bregman: Arranger, Conductor

Album information

Title: Ella Fitzgerald sings the Rodgers and Hart Song Book. Year Released: 1956 | Record Label: Verve

Ella Fitzgerald sings the Rodgers and Hart Song Book sheet music download