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Presented here is the complete classic double album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers & Hart Song Book (Verve MGV-4002-2). The second of the celebrated song books recorded by Ella and one of the best vocal jazz albums ever made, it was arranged and conducted by Buddy Bregman (as was its predecessor, Ella’s Cole Porter Song Book). Each of the eight albums in the series focused on a different composer of the canon known as the Great American Songbook. Producer Norman Granz later visited Cole Porter himself at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and played him the entire Porter album. Afterwards, Porter merely remarked, “My, what marvellous diction that girl has”. The second Song Book, presented here, was dedicated to the songs of Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) and Lorenz Hart (1895-1943). Many years later, in the mid 1990s, Bregman (born in 1930) remembered his work with Ella: “Strangely enough I was never attracted to Billie or Ella as a kid. Even when I was A&R head and arranging for Verve. But now that I’m older, I can feel, hear Billie’s pain and Ella’s shyness, only coming out of her shell when she really ‘felt’ the music. It’s only recently I found out about Ella being orphaned and having to live on the street and I was with her in heavy daily bursts which would include rehearsals, recordings, and sometime social activity; it never came up. Months would go by when she was on tour and then the Ella merry-go-round would start over once again. Over a 2-year period it happened 4 times: Cole Porter Song Book, Rodgers & Hart Song Book, singles sessions, and Las Vegas Act for the New Frontier.

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