Full performance will be available June 24th
On August 16, 1958, just a few months after Ella Fitzgerald recorded her now-classic album, Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Irving Berlin Songbook, The First Lady Of Song performed selections from that album live at the Hollywood Bowl to an adoring, sold out crowd. Conducted and arranged by Paul Weston, who also arranged and conducted the studio sessions, this concert marked the only time that Fitzgerald performed these iconic arrangements live with a full orchestra.
Widely considered her greatest achievement, Ella’s Songbook records, with peerless renditions of the best songs by America’s greatest composers, are the cornerstone of the Verve catalog and the undisputed standard for jazz vocal recordings. At the inaugural Grammy Awards, her Irving Berlin album won Fitzgerald her first Grammy for “Best Vocal Performance, Female,” and was also nominated for “Album Of The Year.” Aside from the lucky audience at the Hollywood Bowl that night, it wasn’t generally known, until the discovery of these tapes, that Fitzgerald had ever performed any of the Songbook arrangements in concert, let alone that such a pristine and sonically sumptuous recording existed.
On June 24th, Verve/UMe will release the full, never-before-released 15-song performance, aptly titled, Ella At The Hollywood Bowl: The Irving Berlin Songbook, on CD, vinyl, limited edition yellow splatter vinyl, and digitally. This landmark record, discovered in the private collection of producer and Verve Records founder Norman Granz, marks the first time a live Songbook has been released from Fitzgerald. It is also significant in that it captures the only time Fitzgerald worked in concert with arranger-conductor Paul Weston. And, although she performed regularly at the Hollywood Bowl, this is the first full-length concert by Fitzgerald from this iconic venue to be released (notably, Fitzgerald was featured prominently on Verve’s Jazz At The Hollywood Bowl album, recorded and released in 1956, the year Granz formed the label). The live tracks were mixed from the original quarter-inch tapes by Grammy Award-winning producer and musician Gregg Field who played drums for Fitzgerald in her later years. The album is rounded out with insightful liner notes about the concert and Ella’s Songbook series by noted author and music critic, Will Friedwald.
The set is being previewed with a lively rendition of “Puttin’ On The Ritz” which is available now and accompanied by an animated video, directed by Alberto Baroni, that cleverly brings the song and Giulia Pelizzaro’s dynamic album art to life.
Across 15 songs, Fitzgerald and the orchestra performed dazzling arrangements of some of Irving Berlin’s best-known songs including the classic ballads “How Deep Is The Ocean” and “Supper Time,” Hollywood tunes “You’re Laughing At Me” and “Get Thee Behind Me Satan,” and swinging up-tempo numbers “Cheek To Cheek,” “Top Hat,” “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm,” “Heat Wave,” and “Puttin’ On The Ritz.” The concert pops with an electricity not found on the studio recording as Fitzgerald feeds off the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd, whose applause and adulation bookend each song.
1. The Song Is Ended
2. You’re Laughing at Me
3. How Deep Is the Ocean
4. Heat Wave
6. Cheek to Cheek
7. Russian Lullaby
8. Top Hat White Tie and Tails
9. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
10. Get Thee Behind Me Satan
11. Let’s Face the Music And Dance
13. Puttin’ on the Ritz
14. Let Yourself Go
15. Alexander’s Ragtime Band