Ella Fitzgerald way past the Songbooks – in a set of five different albums that display all the groovy talents she brought to her years at Verve Records! First up is Ella Swings Lightly – a record that has Ella getting some great jazzy backings from Marty Paich – on titles that include "Little White Lies", "You Hit The Spot", "Little Jazz", "720 In the Books", "Knock Me
A Kiss", and "My Kinda Love". Sweet Songs For Swingers has Ella singing to light arrangements by Frank DeVol – nothing fancy, but a good set of tunes that are perfect for the lovely style that Ella was hitting back in the 50s. Tracks are short, uncomplicated, and very nicely swinging – even in the gentler moments – with titles that include "Let's Fall In Love", "Sweet & Lovely", "Moonlight Serenade", "I Remember You", and "East Of The Sun". Ella In Berlin is quite a popular live album from Fitzgerald – recorded in Berlin at the height of the cold war years – featuring a famous recording of "Mack The Knife" that almost blew away Bobby Darin's hit with the cut! The album's nicely free of some of the stodginess of some of Ella's Songbook albums from the same time – with light and jazzy backing by a group that includes Jim Hall, Paul Smith, Wilfred Middlebrooks, and Gus Johnson. Titles include "Mack The Knife", "How High The Moon", "Too Darn Hot", "Gone With The Wind", "Misty", and "Summertime". Hello Dolly is a definite shot at the pop market by Ella Fitzgerald – quite possibly recorded as a follow
-up to the 60s success of former singing partner Louis Armstrong, who's referenced nicely in Ella's rendition of the title hit! The first 4 tracks on the set were done in the UK, under the leadership of arranger Johnny Spence – and the remaining 8 were done back on Ella's home turf, with familiar backings by Frank DeVol, and an overall sound that's a bit more lush than those on the British numbers. Includes a hit reading of "Can't Buy Me
Love", plus "Hello Dolly", "The Sweetest Sounds", "My Man", "Volare", "The Thrill Is Gone", "How High The Moon", and "Lullaby Of The Leaves". Whisper Not is a groovier batch of tunes than usual for Ella – especially compared to most of her Verve recordings! Ella's getting backed here by Marty Paich and orchestra – in a mid 60s swinging mode that has a nice degree of kick to it, and which shows that Ella's able to groove like some of the other singers of the decade. And sure, the whole thing gets a bit cheesy at times – but in a good way that has Ella breaking from the staidness of her "songbook" sessions. Titles include "Old MacDonald", "Matchmaker", "Wives & Lovers", "Lover Man", "I've Got Your Number", and "Whisper Not".