Ella Fitzgerald is rightfully known for her superb, often-definitive interpretations of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Rodgers & Hart, and Gershwin tunes, which are well documented in her SONG BOOK series. The addition of SINGS THE JEROME KERN SONG BOOK to Fitzgerald's discography is welcome. Recorded in 1963, the album presents Fitzgerald's voice as golden as ever. Yet age was beginning to color her singing a bit, and that texture adds a beautiful dimension to songs like the dark "Why Was I Born?" and the yearning "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man." Fitzgerald's SONG BOOK outings are usually graced by the orchestra and arrangements of Nelson Riddle. Riddle's charts for the JEROME KERN SONG BOOK are typically smart and swinging, with a lush, full sound that balances punch and lyricism. Fitzgerald's ebullient delivery and honey-rich timbre bring out the humor of "A Fine Romance," the wistfulness of "I'm Old Fashioned," and the tender romance of "The Way You Look Tonight," putting her distinctive stamp on each. This set is sure to please fans of Kern and big-band standards. For aficionados of Fitzgerald's other SONG BOOK albums, this is a must.
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