0019. Ella Fitzgerald – Sings The George & Ira Gershwin Song Book [1959]


Ella Fitzgerald, for those who don’t already know, is another jazz diva on par with Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan.  This album is great for those of you familiar with old Broadway musicals. It’s actually a triple album, but I think three albums worth of Gershwin music is a bit… too much.

My favorite track on there is Someone To Watch Over Me. Some of you might be familiar with that song from other sources.  Anyway, good stuff.  I enjoyed it.  Hope you do too.  Remember to click the picture so you can hear the album (just the first album, actually).

Wikipedia Says:

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook is a 1959 (see 1959 in music) five album set by the American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, focusing on the songs ofGeorge and Ira Gershwin. It was recorded with the Nelson RiddleOrchestra, marking the first time that Fitzgerald and Riddle had worked together. This album is the largest single recording project that Fitzgerald worked on, and it is considered[by whom?] to be one of the most ambitious achievements in Western popular music.

The album cover is an original portrait of Fitzgerald by the French artistBernard Buffet, starting a tradition of using contemporary artists for Fitzgerald’s albums, the artwork ofHenri Matisse gracing the cover of herHarold Arlen Songbook (1961).

Riddle arranged 59 Gershwin compositions for the album, including the two orchestral suites which open the album. Though Fitzgerald was 20 years old at the time George Gershwin died in 1937, Ira Gershwin was still alive to see this project completed, and helped contribute lyrics and support to some songs on the album which had never been recorded before. It was this project that led Ira Gershwin to say that he had “never known how good our songs were until I heard Ella sing them”.

Ella Fitzgerald was 41 when she recorded this album, and at the peak of her vocal powers, demonstrated in the earlier Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book, and her two greatest live albums from this period, Ella in Berlin (1960) andElla in Rome (1958). Like the other songbooks devoted to the Broadwaycomposers, Fitzgerald gets only a single outlet for her notable scat singing, on “I Got Rhythm”.

Fitzgerald’s recording of “But Not for Me” won her the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Female.

It is listed as one of the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Track listing

For the 1998 4-CD set Verve re-issue, Verve 314 539 759-2

All Tracks composed by George Gershwin and all lyrics written by Ira Gershwin, unless otherwise indicated.

Disc One

  1. Ambulatory Suite (Instrumental) (George Gershwin)
    • “Promenade (Walking the Dog)” – 2:31,
    • “March of the Swiss Soldiers” – 2:04,
    • “Fidgety Feet” – 2:46
  2. The Preludes (Instrumental) (G. Gershwin)
    • Prelude I – 1:36,
    • Prelude II – 3:48,
    • Prelude III – 1:13,
  3. Sam and Delilah” – 3:15
  4. But Not for Me” – 3:31
  5. My One and Only” – 2:36
  6. Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” – 4:26
  7. (I’ve Got) Beginner’s Luck” – 3:08
  8. Oh, Lady Be Good!” – 3:58
  9. Nice Work If You Can Get It” – 3:32
  10. Things Are Looking Up” – 3:03
  11. Just Another Rhumba” – 5:34
  12. How Long Has This Been Going On?” – 3:45
  13. ‘S Wonderful” – 3:28
  14. The Man I Love” – 3:50
  15. That Certain Feeling” – 3:07
  16. By Strauss” – 2:29
  17. Someone to Watch Over Me” – 4:30
  18. The Real American Folk Song (Is a Rag)” – 3:43

Disc Two

  1. Who Cares?” – 3:05
  2. Looking For a Boy” – 3:02
  3. They All Laughed” – 3:02
  4. My Cousin in Milwaukee” – 3:07
  5. Somebody from Somewhere” – 3:06
  6. A Foggy Day” – 3:50
  7. Clap Yo’ Hands” – 2:28
  8. For You, For Me, For Evermore” – 3:23
  9. Stiff Upper Lip” – 2:50
  10. Boy Wanted” – 3:33
  11. Strike Up the Band” – 2:33
  12. Soon” – 2:20
  13. I’ve Got a Crush on You” – 3:26
  14. Bidin’ My Time” – 2:40
  15. Aren’t You Kind of Glad We Did?” – 3:28
  16. Of Thee I Sing” – 3:07
  17. ‘The Half of it, Dearie’ Blues” – 3:45
  18. I Was Doing All Right” – 3:25
  19. He Loves and She Loves” – 2:46
  20. Love is Sweeping the Country” – 3:24
  21. Treat Me Rough” – 2:54

Disc Three

  1. Our Love is Here to Stay” – 3:52
  2. Slap That Bass” – 3:23
  3. Isn’t It a Pity?” – 3:23
  4. Shall We Dance?” – 3:08
  5. Love Walked In” – 3:52
  6. You’ve Got What Gets Me” – 2:13
  7. They Can’t Take That Away from Me” – 3:07
  8. Embraceable You” – 4:49
  9. I Can’t Be Bothered Now” – 2:48
  10. Boy! What Love Has Done to Me!” – 3:46
  11. Fascinating Rhythm” – 3:22
  12. Funny Face” – 3:23
  13. Lorelei” – 3:21
  14. Oh, So Nice!” – 3:40
  15. Let’s Kiss and Make Up” – 3:49
  16. I Got Rhythm” – 3:07

Disc Four – Tracks 3 to 16 are Alternate Takes and Remixes

  1. Somebody Loves Me” (G. Gershwin, Buddy DeSylva, Ballard MacDonald) – 2:36
  2. Cheerful Little Earful” (Harry Warren, Ira Gershwin, Billy Rose) – 2:06
  3. “But Not for Me” – 2:05 (45 rpm Take)
  4. “Lorelei” (Alternate Take) – 3:00
  5. “Our Love is Here to Stay” (Partial Alternate Take) – 3:51
  6. “Oh, Lady be Good!” (Alternate Take) – 4:04
  7. “Oh, Lady be Good!” (Alternate Take) – 3:56
  8. “Oh, Lady be Good!” (Alternate Take) – 4:12
  9. “But Not for Me” – 2:05 (Mono Mix)
  10. “Fascinating Rhythm” – 3:21 (Mono Mix)
  11. “They All Laughed” – 3:02 (Mono Mix)
  12. “The Man I Love” – 3:50 (Mono Mix)
  13. “Nice Work If You Can Get It” – 3:32 (Mono Mix)
  14. “Clap Yo’ Hands” – 2:29 (Mono Mix)
  15. “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” – 4:26 (Mono Mix)
  16. “I Was Doing All Right” – 3:25 (Mono Mix)
  17. “He Loves and She Loves” – 2:46 (Mono Mix)
  18. “(I’ve Got) Beginner’s Luck” – 3:07 (Mono Mix)
  • Disc One, Two and Three original LP issue: Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Songbook Verve MGVS 6082-5
  • Disc One, tracks 1 and 2 original 7″-EP (Verve VS 100) issued with the above
  • Disc Four, tracks 1 and 2 originally issued on the 1959 Ella Fitzgerald album Get Happy! Verve V6-4036
  • Disc Four, track 3 original 7″-single issue: Verve 10180
  • Disc Four, tracks 4, 5, and 9-18: Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin SongbookVerve MGV-4013 [note 1]
  • Disc Four, tracks 6 and 7 previously unissued.


  1. Jump up^ The booklet of the 1998 4-CD set is most probably misprinted. It gives “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Songbook Vol.1 Verve MGVS 6102″, as the original issue for these tracks, but MGVS 6102 is the catalogue number for Get Happy, while MGV-4013 is the LP mentioned later in the same booklet as the original issue for the tracks.


All tracks recorded in 1959 at Capitol Studios, Hollywood on January 5-8, March 18 and 26, and July 15-17.

Combined personnel listing for all tracks
String section
  • ViolinsIsrael Baker, Henry Hill, Harold Dicterow, Erno Neufield, Victor Arno, Victor Bay, Alex Beller, Joseph Livoti, Jacques Gasselin, Walter Edelstein, James Getzoff, Eudice Shapiro, Ben Gill, Murrary Kellner, Nat Ross, Felix Slatkin, Marshall Sosson, Misha Russell, Paul Shure, Dan Lube, Gerald Vinci
  • Violas – Alvin Dinken, Lou Kievman, David Sterkin, Stanley Harris, Paul Robyn, Barbara Simons
  • Cellos – Elizabeth Greenschpoon, James Arkatov, Armand Kaproff, George Neikrug, Dave Filerman, Kurt Reher
  • Harp – Katharine Julyie

3 responses to “0019. Ella Fitzgerald – Sings The George & Ira Gershwin Song Book [1959]

  1. You seem to like your classic, female Jazz singer! Agree on three records probably being one too many, but nevertheless the CD box is a pleasure to listen to. And thanks for the Sarah Vaughan you had in the previous post! It was a very much appreciated new discovery for me. Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh my yes. I absolutely love female jazz singers. As I was listening to this Ella box, it just seemed to never end. Being a live sound engineer for theatrical productions, I hear Gershwin tunes fairly often, and I’m rather tired of them at this point. Nothing wrong at all with Ella’s treatment of the music; I just get tired of the songs themselves. You’re very welcome, by the way! Very glad someone out there made such a discovery, because Sarah Vaughan and that album are fantastic. More people ought to know about her. Thanks for commenting!

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