Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Jazz Icons – Ella Fitzgerald Part Three – The Eight Songbooks

It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured the icons and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

This week in the Ella Fitzgerald story a slight change of format as we look at the eight Songbooks that Ella recorded showcasing the best music of the 20th century.. Enjoy the concert of the most iconic songs of the era.

From 1956 to 1964 Ella Fitzgerald under the banner of the Verve record label recorded eight of her very popular ‘Songbooks’ beginning with Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, which was also her first album with the label.

These Songbooks are amongst the most well-known of her many albums and the songs ranged from the popular Jazz standards to lesser known songs from the composers and lyricists featured and also some cross over for her non-jazz fans.

The Cole Porter Songbook was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000 in an award that recognised excellence in the previous 25 years. Here is the fabulous I Get a Kick Outta of You…

The second Songbook followed quickly in 1956, Ella Fitzgerald sings the Rodgers & Hart Songbook. Accompanied by a studio orchestra conducted by Buddy Bregman.. The four-sided Songbook was filled with many popular tracks including Have You Met Miss Jones, With A Song In My Heart, and My Funny Valentine..

Here is The Lady is a Tramp…

“Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook” in 1957 was the only Songbook on which the composer she interpreted played with her. Duke Ellington and his long-time collaborator Billy Strayhorn both appeared on exactly half the set’s 38 tracks and wrote two new pieces of music for the album: Tracks include Prelude To A Kiss, Take The A Train and Don’t Get Around Much Anymore. Duke Ellington composed and performed all the music with lyricists including Irving Mills, Johnny Hodges and Harry James. Here is Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.

The next Songbook in the series was in 1958 Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook. A studio album with music arranged and conducted by Paul Weston. It featured some of Irving Berlin’s most popular work and included Let’s Face The Music And Dance, Puttin’ On The Ritz, and Cheek to Cheek.. Here is Alexander’s Ragtime Band…Ella Fitzgerald – Topic


The next in the series is Ella Fitzgerald sings George and Ira Gershwin Songbook arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle. Some of the wonderful tracks included Someone To Watch Over Me, Strike Up The Band, I’ve Got A Crush On You.

The sixth Songbook came along two years later in 1961 Ella Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook another studio album and this was the only time that Ella worked with Billy May. Tracks included Stormy Weather, lyrics by Ted Koehler, That Old Black Magic, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, and It’s Only A Paper Moon by E.Y Harburg and Billy Rose.

Number seven in the series was Ella Sings The Jerome Kern Songbook in 1963 again with Nelson Riddle..Tracks included All The Things You Are by Oscar Hammerstein and The Way You Look Tonight by Dorothy Fields.

The last in the eight Songbooks in 1964 was Ella Fitzgerald Sings Johnny Mercer in 1964 another arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle including Too Marvelous For Words lyrics by Richard A Whiting and When A Man Loves A Woman lyrics by Bernie Hanighen and Gordon Jenkins.

The Songbook series ended up becoming the singer’s most critically acclaimed and commercially successful work, and probably her most significant offering to American culture.

The New York Times wrote in 1996, “These albums were among the first pop records to devote such serious attention to individual songwriters, and they were instrumental in establishing the pop album as a vehicle for serious musical exploration.”

You can enjoy all the songbooks on one album: The complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books

Additional Sources
Ella Fitzgerald

I hope you have enjoyed this tribute to one of the icons of jazz and will join us again next week for the next part of the Ella Fitzgerald Story.

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson


Thank you for dropping and as always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.

48 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Jazz Icons – Ella Fitzgerald Part Three – The Eight Songbooks

  1. Wow, thanks for this fantastic edition. A few of those brought back great memories, like the Rogers and Hart Songbook. It reminded me of The Rogers and Hart album the Supremes did in early 60s with similar songs. That album will eternally remind me of my Aunty Sherry. we used to listen to that when I’d visit her. But Ella sure sang the hits of all the biggies in her time with those great songbooks. Thanks for the memories.

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  2. Thank you vor mentioning so much of her work. She was great, and this day i enjoy”Alexander’s Ragtime Band” so much. 🙂 Thanks again, and best wishes for a wonderful weekend, Sally and William!
    @Sally: I am just listening to BBC, Bradford. Can it reall be, this station has presenters speaking a slower English? 😉 I am amazed! xx Michael

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  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – April 25th – May 1st 2022 – Ella Fitzgerald, Chart hits 1993, St. Kitts, Calcium, Poetry, Book Reviews, Guest Posts, Health and Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  4. I have the Irving Berlin’s songbook by Ella and I adore it, but would love to get the other ones as well. Thanks for sharing those gems, William and Sally!

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