RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT A MOST WONDROUS LADY
It is ironic that the Ella Fitzgerald tribute at Carnegie Hall was held on the 9th of July (1997), my birthday.
Mostly all of us Bregmans were born during one early July week - my brother Bobby on the 2nd, my cousin Michael on the 8th, me on the 9th as well as my nephew Tony Bregman (my brother's son who is also the grandson of Mario Lanza, as my brother's wife is Mario's daughter, Ellisa Lanza Bregman), and my mother Claire Styne Bregman, (Jule Styne's sister) on the 10th of July.
My daughter, Tracey Elizabeth Bregman who plays 'Lauren Fenmore' on "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful", just missed it by being born on May 29th, (John F viagra. Kennedy's birthday).
Unfortunately my nephew Tony Bregman and I share a 9th of July birthday with OJ Simpson, but fortunately also with Tom Hanks buy generic viagra!
I didn't attend the Ella tribute as it was in New York and I was involved in casting a film about jazz saxophone legend Lester Young for which I am the writer/director/ producer online viagra. That day of July 9th was a particularly heavy one looking for a young actress to play Billie Holiday viagra.
Strangely enough I was never attracted to Billie or Ella as a kid. Even when I was A&R head and arranging for Verve . But now that I'm older, I can feel/hear Billie's pain and Ella's shyness, only coming out of her shell when she really 'felt' the music.
It's only recently I found out about Ella being orphaned and having to live on the street and I was with her in heavy daily bursts which would include rehearsals, recordings, and sometime social activity it never came up. Months would go by when she was on tour and then the Ella merry-go-round would start over once again. Over a 2-year period it happened 4 times: Cole Porter Song Book, Rodgers & Hart SongBook, singles sessions, and Las Vegas Act for the New Frontier (co-starring along with Mario Lanza; my future sister-in-law and I hanging around the same hotel obviously not knowing each other at the time).
When Ella and I checked in, our rooms were not ready and we had to sit on a couch near the gaming tables. This was at a time when colored people cleaned the hotels, not starred at one. So she was conspicuous. Also, no one really recognized her, as a black jazz artist had never headlined a main room. I was very much at home, having arranged all the music for two giant dance numbers (6 weeks rehearsal + 2 in Vegas) with the crème de la crème of Broadway in the chorus, choreographed by the wonderful, insane, crazy Robert Alton of "Pal Joey" (new version) fame, which my Uncle Jule had recently produced.
So I asked Ella if she'd like to gamble. She said, "No, honey, here, you go [placed a hundred dollar bill in my palm] and put this on black!" So, being as full of myself as I was in those days, our conversations only consisted of (after a few "you, you, you") a lot of "I, I, I."
I talked a lot about social life not social issues. But Ella only talked about music, nothing very personal. She seemed shy and not at all like any of the young girl singers and actresses I hung around with. I always watched what I said, as if she were a matriarchal Bregman like my grandmother, so it usually was strained at best, until I hit the piano and she sat on a stool nearby, then we were both in our professional element and it was better. But I was always cognizant of who she was and was constantly in a very kind and deferential mode. Even if we were totally in a social arena and not working together it was an 'adult deferential respectful' mode.
I would always take over in a restaurant to make sure there were no problems. I always watched out for that. She was at her heaviest when we worked together. And I always had an arm out to help her.
Even I was shy around her, as I never wanted to say the wrong thing. Even after rehearsal and I took her back to The Watkins Hotel where she lived and we had a drink at the bar after 3-4 hours of rehearsal, I was cautious. I was also the only white person in the place. They all liked me there. I even sat in with the trio; Milt Buckner on organ, I'd play the piano and Ella would sing along or just enjoy the music. Not my piano playing, she had had enough of that!
Dinah Washington stuck her head out of the window when I picked Ella up one day and said, "Who's that cute young boy you got with you, Ella?" "You just leave Buddy alone, Dinah, he's my friend."
That's why we worked so well together - oil and water - a well-to-do kid from Chicago and an orphaned middle-aged black jazz singer from New York; Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Bregman; Ella and Cole; Ella and Rodgers & Hart; a jazz singer singing show tunes.
I had that idea for a long time. I always (and still do) loved show tunes. They said so much. Although I didn't always like the interpretations. I thought there was a better way to 'get down' with them. Although, I must say, no one has ever sung Porter better than Merman and Bobby Short and no one has ever sung Rodgers & Hart better than Mabel Mercer and Bobby Short. And I guess I found that middle ground.
Ella and Buddy found a way to do both. Had I been a young guy who had been with a band or had experience arranging for bands before I got with Verve (even though I had recorded with the likes of Bobby Short just before Ella and done the charts for lots of the line numbers at various Las Vegas Hotels: The Sahara, New Frontier, The Sands, Flamingo and The Tropicana) it would have been easier for all concerned and the results even better. But I was right out of college with no real big band experience. So, where I was personally concerned, Ella didn't have a place to share similar experiences.
But we did it, and I had had the idea of doing the monster Broadway songs with one singer since I was 11. I think there were times when my musical charts restricted Ella. Anyone's big band charts would have. She was obviously better off with the trio that, of course, took no talent on my part as an arranger.
But on the "TOO DARN HOT" track in the Cole Porter SongBook, I think that really was a great blending of Ella's and my talent!
I got to know Ella Fitzgerald quite well personally, while I was recording with her over a couple of years which included many singles as well as the Cole Porter Songbook and the Rodgers & Hart Songbook.
LA TIMES RE ELLA/COLE PORTER SONGBOOK ALBUM:
The Cole Porter Song Book, first of a series, re-established Ella Fitzgerald for a tremendous new market. The Porter and Rodgers and Hart SongBooks, both orchestrated by Buddy Bregman, are considered two of the all-time classics of jazz.
The style of the tracks varies greatly, according to the mood of the song. Ella picks up the beat and syncopation in such masterpieces as "You're The Top" and slows and sexifies the voice in "I Love Paris" and "Love For Sale." Overall the collection has a mellow, jazzy feel that varies between romantic sand downright sexy.
If you are looking for a good collection to load into the CD player for a romantic dinner, a quiet night watching the lights on Sydney Harbour with a brandy in one hand or just appreciate the varied styles and depth of talent of Miss Ella Fitzgerald then it is hard to go past this two CD set.
Floating on a starlight ceiling
Ella Fitzgerald could sing about a garbage dump and make it sound beautiful. This CD is a great collaboration between the voice of Ella and the songwriting genius of Cole Porter. Ella was definitely the first lady of song and will be the last. No other singer on this planet comes close to her style, diction and her amazing scats. Her incredible voice, the timeless lyrics by Cole Porter and the great production makes this a CD to play over and over again.
Here's a reason to stay alive, if you're looking for one
So count your blessings. They don't make records like this any more.
You must get this CD! There's nothing better than this
Not enough stars to rate this!!
Too marvelous for words!
To describe this great album,I have to borrow Johnny Mercer's song title that-- it's just too marvelous for words!. Ella's voice is great as always and Cole Porter's excellent lyrics and melodies make this album too marvelous for words!
The perfect combination
Ella is the best jazz singer ever and Cole Porter was certainly one of the best composers of his time. This is an amazing CD. Any jazz lover will adore it.
Cole Porter Songbook
I only have disc two - and have been looking for 11 years for this. It is one of the best recordings ever made by her -- of wonderful songs. My copy was a copy of a copy of a copy, etc.
Now that I found it and it is two separate discs, I am delighted. If you don't know Ella -- or Cole Porter -- this is a great primer. A great collection of songs we recognize, and are hearing sung by the best.
A perfect match
Ah! the wonderful Ella! To anybody who does not know what class and wit are, this is it! Ella inhabits the character of each song and makes it her own. The performances are simply brilliant. I can think of no other artist who can do this better. Listen to the poignancy of "Miss Otis Regrets", or the way she romps through "Ace in the Hole." Your music collection is not complete unless you have this album!
I love it!
If you like Cole Porter and Ella Fitzagerald you'll probably enjoy this album as much as I do! I can imagine Nick and Nora Charles listening to this at one of Nick's favorite dives! It will transport you to a sophisticated time and place that may have never existed except in literature and debutante coming out parties. Gatsby would have loved it, and surely would have invited Ella to all his parties! This is my very favorite of all of Ella's albums. It's as if she had been created to sing Cole Porter's work, and Porter had been created just to write for Ella! If tis doesn't put you in the mood for love, I can't imagine what would!
Ella shows why she reigns! 1st lady of song!!
All 30-plus tunes here are just fine. Some not quite great but about a dozen all time winners, even in these over-recorded Cole Porter songs. There's nice notes too, and spirited arrangements by Buddy Bregman. Most of these could have been recorded tomorrow, much less 1956!! My favorites?! ALL THRU THE NIGHT, a slow swinger, ANYTHING GOES, including the seldom heard intro, a real swinger, as good as Frank's version the same year. TOO DARN HOT,super hot, even better than Ann Miller's version in KISS ME KATE (but as a dancer Ann can't be beat!)LETS DO IT!, I LOVE PARIS, YOU DO SOMETHING TO ME, the best version I've heard, RIDIN HIGH, another super hot blaster, YOURE THE TOP, as good as Crosby's best version (PS Do they write songs like this anymore?!)..LOVE FOR SALE, different with its haunting,brooding style, and I like the horns here which IMHO are not dated! ITS DELOVELY another super hot ball of fire. NIGHT AND DAY, the 2nd best swing version (after Frank's version), ACE IN THE WHOLE yet another super hot ace! Maybe a few are not among the best recordings of many recorded ditties, still mainly aces.
Ella and Cole...you're the top!
Having only heard Ella Fitzgerald's Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart Songbooks, I think I slightly prefer this recording, but only slightly. Every single song is consistently strong
and memorable, whereas on the Rodgers and Hart album there are a few weak selections; not many, but enough to be noticeable enough to diminish the album's overall impact just a little bit. It's kind of silly to compare the two, though, because any album featuring Ella's one-of-a-kind voice and honest, direct interpretations of songs is almost surely bound to be great and delight, touch, or at the very least engage the listener. These songbooks and the others in the series are a fantastic showcase for her range and versatility. She can be sassy, sly, and sexy in such up-tempo jazz/swing numbers as "Anything Goes," "Too Darn Hot," "Let's Do It," "Just One Of Those Things," "From This Moment On," "Ridin' High," "What Is THis Thing Called Love," "You're The TOp," "It's De-Lovely," "Ace In the Hole," I've Got YOu Under My SKin," and "Don't Fence Me In," and then with consumate ease turn around and give a tender, sensitive and intimate reading of a ballad or love song like "Do I Love You?" "Begin the Beguine," "Get Out OF Twon," "Love For Sale," "I Concentrate On You," the gently swung "All Through the Night," "I Get A Kick Out Of You," and "Night And Day," the Latin-falvored "In the Still Of the Night," "I Am In Love," and "So In Love," and especially "Miss Otis Regrets." (And trust me, these are just a few of the many treasures on this album. Talk about versatile! Porter was just as versatile as Ella!) His lyrics range from his legendary sly, devilishly clever wit to a haunting romanticism, and his music. sublimely orchestrated here by Buddy Bregman, runs the gamut of all the musical styles mentioned above and many more. This two-disc recording is a must-have for fans of Fitzgerald, Porter, and music in general. Whatever your taste, ya gotta love it.
Cole Porter, perfectly rendered by the eternal Ella
This is the stuff dreams are made of -- arguably the finest jazz voice of all time interpreting the essential works by one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th Century. How could it possibly be any better? These recordings, dating from 1956, were made in Hollywood -- Ella accompanied by the outstanding Buddy Bregman Orchestra. They possess an astounding clarity for their time -- in mono, but with amazing fidelity -- and stand to remind us not only of Ella's gift, but that of Cole Porter as well. Most of these tunes are from stage shows, a few from films, with 'Miss Otis regrets' added for good measure -- most, if not all, familiar to anyone who has been exposed to music since the 1940s. Cole Porter's artistry is almost without peer among songwriters of any genre. His melodies are memorable and imaginative, uniquely expressive. His lyrics are a monument to his appreciation of all the nuances of the English language -- filled with emotion and humor, masterfully crafted, containing some of the most inventive uses of internal rhymes and wordplay I've ever heard in song. Teamed with Ella's legendary interpretive prowess, this is a combination that would be hard to beat. She holds the lyrics with her voice as if she were caressing them with her hands -- every note is perfect, her voice cooing or soaring as emotion leads it. The treatment here is the full big-band arrangement -- soaring strings, piano, nudging but muted horns. The orchestra surrounds her, but never overpowers her voice (if that were indeed possible). It serves to remind us what a great talent she was -- thankfully, through her massive recording output, we can enjoy this gift forever. This is a lovingly assembled package -- 2 cds that contain the entire original 2-lp set plus alternate takes of three of the songs (including one where we can hear spoken exchanges in the studio between Ella and the musicians and engineers) -- complete with copious notes (including the original artwork and notes from the album). Verve has done a great service to music lovers by making this available in this form.
Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook
Long considered a jewel in Verve Records' very impressive crown, Fitzgerald's songbook collections of various composers--a series that was started by the success of this set — Arranged & Conducted by Buddy Bregman - are all wonderful, but her natural wit and intelligence was at its most perfect with Cole Porter's erudite, urbane songs. While not as scat-oriented as her small group outings, these Porter sets offer her most realized pop performances.
A true American music gem
The gold re-mastering does a fine job of bringing out the nuances in the arrangements, making this a treasure for the serious collector and the casual listener alike.
Fine Fitzgerald sings perfect Porter
The late great Ella Fitzgerald had probably the best jazz voice ever put down on tape. This collection of Cole Porter songs was the first of the "Song Book" collection issued by Verve and was so successful that they followed it up with an Gershwin and Rodgers and Hart collections, though in my opinion, the Porter song book is the best.
SOME OF THE FOLLOWING IS FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN McDONOUGH FOR THE COMPLETE ELLA FITZGERALD SONG BOOKS BOOKLET
Bregman, whose uncle is composer Jule Styne, was born and raised in Chicago and had deep show business connections. He was also younger than the press releases claimed. "I was still 18" (actually 17) he said recently in an interview, "too young probably."
He met Granz on a tennis court. "I had arranged an R&B tune by Lieber & Stoller titled 'I Need Your Lovin' for a group named The Cheers and on the flip side was 'Bernie's Tune.' One day I was invited to José Ferrer's house for tennis. I knew Rosie Clooney well, and she was married to José then. When I showed up, Norman was also there, and we were introduced. I knew who he was right away because my brother and I had seen his JATP concerts at the Chicago Opera House when we were kids."
Granz had heard about Bregman too. "'I just heard a record by Buddy Bregman on the radio,'" Bregman remembers Granz telling him. "'Was that you?'" He had heard 'Bernie's Tune,' and he was impressed. He told me he was starting a new pop record company, and he asked me if I would be interested in working for him. It was as simple as that, right on the tennis-court at the Ferrers'. I reported for work the following Monday in his office at 451 North Canon Drive. I received $500 a week, plus (Musician's Union) scale for arrangements and (conducting) sessions, which was very good for those days. He didn't even have a name for the label yet. That came on Tuesday. [The name Verve was his idea] I was supposed to sign new artists, but in the meantime he showed me a list of his Clef and NorGran artists and asked which (jazz artists) I could work with now (on the new Verve pop label).
I picked Anita O'Day out of the list of jazz artists whom I thought would never sell on a pop label (Johnny Hodges, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Young, Art Tatum, etc.). I had heard of Anita O'Day as she was an infamous graduate of the same high school I had graduated from - (Nicholas) Senn High on the North Side of Chicago. The richest and poorest kids one could bunch together - 6,000 students - the largest high school in America. I made Mother park our Cadillac(s) one block away so no one would see me (or my brother Bobby) jump into a car like that.
As a sidebar, my brother became head of Verve's album post-production department: I'd make the albums and he would get them ready, all aspects including photos, notes, lists, etc., for distribution.
Other well-known Senn High graduates are pianist Lou Levy (he had gray hair even in high school), actor Harvey Korman, director Bill Friedkin, comedian Shecky Greene, etc.
I had also seen Anita sing (And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine) with Stan Kenton's Band at the Standard Club, an upscale downtown club my parents belonged to and where my brother and I used to play basketball every Saturday and charge massive lunches to our account.
On one holiday evening, Stan Kenton was the band brought into the dining room (I stood right next to the saxophone section and watched Vido Musso play tenor solos with his incredible tone) to entertain us. Some Senn schoolmates worked with the band at various times; Bill Russo (trombone) and Hotsy Katz (trumpet) and I had played clarinet/tenor sax in our school dance band with these guys when I was 12. I could read anything put in front of me but had an awful tone. I felt weird as we had money and the guys I knew were musicians playing for our pleasure. At that time, in Chicago, my father was vice-president and secretary of Price Iron & Steel Company; we had our own plane with full-time pilot, and our own boat with full-time captain.
DOWNBEAT: Norman Granz will have no connection with Verve except for owning it. All central operations will be handled by arranger-conductor Buddy Bregman.
My first assignment was to make a commercial album with Anita O'Day. The album that came from that session, "Anita", sold very well. "Honeysuckle Rose" is one of my most well known charts for her on that album. That made me sort of a star in the jazz arena. Our second album, "Pick Yourself Up" contains one of my most famous arrangements for Anita: "Sweet Georgia Brown".
Soon Bregman was recording Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Jane Powell, and others, and signing teenage heartthrobs such as Ricky Nelson.
I asked Norman why we don't sign Ella to our new label. He answered that first she was under contract to Decca, "and besides that, she doesn't sell any records. What would you do with her?" "Every show tune ever written." "Like what?" "Oh, I don't know, like Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hart." He said, "forget it! We'd have to buy out her contract and it wouldn't be worth it." I wondered why Norman would say something like that, even though true as he was Ella's personal manager and that was way before personal managers, along with defense lawyers, became slime-buckets.
Then I found out that Norman's musicians under contract to his jazz labels Clef and NorGran had been used in the Universal (they owned Decca) film "The Benny Goodman Story" as well as the double-album soundtrack - 'on sale at your neighborhood record stores.' "You've got them now… why don't you just make a trade-off, Ella for using your musicians." He thought for a moment. "You'd better be right!"
Norman was impossible to work with, and impossible to play tennis with. Although he had a great vocabulary (probably where I got mine) and a great sense of humor and was quite talkative. He loved to irk people. His sense of humor was built that way. I liked it, except when directed at me, being a Cancer and super-sensitive.
But I got his number while watching an Oscar Peterson session he was 'producing.' During each take he was 'embroiled' in the New York Times and especially The Wall Street Journal. I remember him turned to the wall as the paper was spread out across it, keeping his focus on the paper/wall and away from the glass window separating him from the musicians.
Ater every last chord he'd lean into the mike and say, "That's a take, next tune!" Then he'd turn back to the financial news.
Foreshadowing the songbook series, Bregman also conducted and arranged a "Buddy Rich SingsJohnny Mercer" collection. Then he conducted (and arranged) four singles that became Ella's first session. [While still at UCLA I had also orchestrated two Cole Porter Broadway Shows for TV; "Anything Goes" with Ethel Merman and Frank Sinatra and "Panama Hattie" with Ethel Merman and Art Carney.]
When Ella and I were first introduced it was a very strange meeting. I came in with jeans and a T-shirt. Ella looked at me like 'Who is this?' Norman did all the talking. But she was very sweet (like one's favorite aunt) and I found her to be charming and lovely. I not only became her arranger-conductor but also her chauffeur. I would pick her up every day for rehearsals or recording.
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book bears the ineradicable signatures of both Granz and Bregman: Granz, who joined Ella with the work of the great writers worthy of her talent and reinvented her career; and Bregman, who gave her the pop edge that made the material accessible to a mass market without losing a jazz feel.
A QUOTE FROM ELLA FITZGERALD:
"THE COLE PORTER ALBUM (ARRANGED & CONDUCTED BY BUDDY BREGMAN) WAS THE TURNING POINT IN MY LIFE. DOING THOSE SONG-BOOKS HELPED ME GET INTO SPOTS I'D NEVER BEEN ABLE TO PLAY BEFORE. WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT IT TOO IS THAT NOW I CAN ALSO SING JAZZ FOR PEOPLE WHO NEVER LISTENED BEFORE."
It was because I couldn't pare down the amount of songs that made it a double album that Ella and I had rehearsed at Zardi's jazz club in Hollywood. It was during the afternoon hours; just a work light a grand piano, Ella and myself; PLUS a bartender who would continually smile at what we were doing. Me singing the songs first, then Ella. He didn't know he was in on recording history, neither did Ella or myself.
I did something I would never do today, I picked the most popular Porter songs. It's unlike me (as evidenced by my Porter TV and live shows for which I only used 'little known songs of Cole Porter') probably my youth. I presented Norman with 50 of the 100 songs we had rehearsed and said, "Here, we like all of these, you pick 'em!" Even he couldn't pare it down past 32 songs, so that's how the 'double' version of the album was born. Not clever but necessary!
I used to pick Ella up in my car and drive her to rehearsals as well as the recording sessions and back again. So I got to talk to her as much as one could when driving in LA.
What I found out mostly was that I did most of the talking and she just answered me in short bursts of, "I see... oh, really... that sounds very nice..." etc. What I didn't give credence to at the time was that this quite large lady was also quite shy. I was with her so much, but in essence, I really didn't get to know her on a very personal basis. Nor did I ever find out about the orphanage situation from her until I recently read a bio about her. We talked about current stuff; what we were doing, certain songs, various musicians, Verve, Norman, etc.
There were some nice social times when she would ask me to stay for dinner while she and her sister (I think, or cousin) Martha cooked, and boy did Martha cook. Today, being a person who works out in a power step aerobics class with 20-30-something ladies, I shudder at the cholesterol that seeped into the fried chicken with a heavenly batter. The sweet potato pie, the fruit pies, and beans and every-thing else that were "naughty but nice."
Basically our conversation was held to music and what we were doing as that seemed to be the area she was the more comfortable in.
I, of course, was into sports and girls, the musical theatre/films and girls, my work with other singers and girls! So we were limited.
I also came from quite a well-to-do iron and steel business family in Chicago, and really had no immersion at all in the black culture except via our black live-in maid. Also through some jazz records my brother and I bought, but never went further as to who was whom and where they were from, what had they lived through, etc.
The first live music I ever saw was as a 9-year-old, strangely enough, was when Norman Granz brought his Jazz at the Philharmonic to the Chicago Opera House. My parents dropped my brother and I off and picked us up afterwards. It was a thrilling experience.
I then heard Dizzy Gillespie's Big Band at the Blue Note and Woody Herman's 3rd and 4th (4 Brothers) Herds at the Oriental Theatre, all in Chicago. I became a worshipper of Ralph Burns and Neal Hefti,saying to myself, "I gotta do that!"
At the same time my parents took us to Palm Springs for the winter and Beverly Hills for the summer respectively. My Uncle Jule Styne lived here at that time, and we either stayed at The Beverly Hills Hotel and at The Racquet Club in Palm Springs. This is where I met all the stars of the day and was ready to leap into the showbiz world of Hollywood!
My intense interest in becoming a songwriter and/or arranger soared while my new interest in filmmaking also soared. But when I went to UCLA since I played clarinet-tenor sax I was asked to join the marching band as well as the jazz band.
I had graduated from Senn High School in Chicago and learned quite a bit from one of the ex-students, arranger Bill Russo, of Stan Kenton fame. My musical education was not formal and I actually figured out how to arrange because I looked over the 'stock arrangements' we played from and laid the individual instrument parts out on the floor, and since I was good at math, I figured out all the transpositions of the instruments, and how and in what order the chords were 'arranged' [hence the word 'arrangements] etc...
I had an IQ of 165 and was in college when I was 15. I was also a very good tennis player and my parents gifted me with a membership at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club. That's how I came in contact with Norman Granz. Pancho Segura was our club pro and he also taught at Rosemary Clooney's/José Ferrer's house.
I can remember after meeting Ella I felt like she could have been someone I would have considered a favorite aunt. She was that nice and that sweet.
The reason for the varied size of orchestras used in both the Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hart albums: If you're doing any composer's 'complete' works, there's inevitably a certain sameness in the pattern of the writing. I wanted to get away from being locked in with all big-band arrangements, because that would emphasize the sameness. So I used a different size orchestra on every session. The 5 just piano and rhythm tracks I didn't think required arrangements. The harmonic possibilities were more limited on 'Miss Otis Regrets' than say 'All Through the Night.'
Note: Norman Granz claims he wanted to use Nelson Riddle as arranger and finally decided on me because I had such an 'affinity for the material.' That statement is such a dichotomy. I was there - I was the head of A&R for the label and during those early days the ONLY outside arranger/conductor working with the new 'pop/middle of the road artists. Since the origin of the songbooks came from me and I had such a theatrical background via my Uncle Jule Styne (my mother's brother) there was never even a hint of anyone else.
I wanted to do the verses to all the songs picked. But Ella resisted them because she didn't know them and would have to work hard at them. My singing of the verse to 'Just One of Those Things' is still a better reading than hers is on our recording of it, mainly because she didn't understand the story behind the verse.
ELLA: (SINGING) AS DOROTHY PARKER ONCE SAID, TO HER BOYFRIEND... FARE THEE WELL ...Who's Dorothy Parker?
BUDDY: A reviewer of films and theatre and…news…
ELLA: Never heard of her.
BUDDY: Cole Porter and I have.
ELLA: (SINGING) AS COLUMBUS ANNOUNCED WHEN HE KNEW HE WAS BOUNCED IT WAS SWELL, ISABELL, SWELL... Okay, I know who Columbus is, but who the heck is Isabel?
BUDDY: Queen Isabella of Spain… she financed Columbus… and that's how he discovered Am…
ELLA: (SINGING PISSED OFF) AS ABELARD SAID TO HELOISE DON'T FORGET TO DROP A LINE TO ME PLEASE...Okay, okay, I'll bet even you don't know who…
BUDDY: A sorta priest who secretly married a holy man's daughter and was banished from Paris.
ELLA (SINGING; FUROUS) AS JULIET CRIED IN HER ROMEO'S EAR ROMEO... WHY NOT FACE THE FACT MY DEAR?... Yeah, yeah, I know, Shakespeare!
Buddy and Ella look at each other and laugh. The above little playlet should make the point.
When we came to the verses that were difficult or really didn't work, Ella would get uptight and say, "Why do I have to do this?" She had to spend time doing it and didn't want to. Usually Ella would go in and do her songs very fast. She would do 2 or 3 takes at most, because that was the way she worked. The verses were a problem cause it meant working hard on them.
I would have preferred to give Ella more direction. One thing she didn't do to my satisfaction was give the emphasis on the lyrics I thought she should. In the verse about Dorothy Parker and Columbus in "Just One of those Things", it's as if she's reading words off the paper. But in those days I wasn't a director as I am today. Now I'm more into putting total emphasis on the words because the music seems to take care of itself. Ella is a singer who sings magnificently, but she gives her all into the music rather than the words.
Ella had always been loose because the pianists she used always played to her. I had orchestrated many of the verses and had to conduct them, sometimes 45 pieces playing behind her colla voce (with the voice), meaning all instruments had to play as one behind Ella, which kind of locked her down. So when we rolled, my eyes were always riveted on her mouth, even though I had the head-phones. I could anticipate everything she did.
Granz arrived late for the first session. He had been in New York recording Stan Getz and Lester Young and a bunch of other 'legends' for his jazz labels, and hadn't been in LA for about 10 days, during which time, I finished up the charts. And also my contractor and I put together the jigsaw puzzle of which players for what orchestras.
I was in the middle of running down a rehearsal on 'Just One of Those Things' as Norman walked into the booth. When the first rehearsal of the arrangement was finished I called on engineer Alan Emig to roll for a take. Tape had actually been running unofficially, just in case. An unexpected voice then came over the squawk box. "That was a take," the voice said. I recognized it was Norman. "Whatta you mean a take? I want to try it one more time." "It's fine, let's get on with it!"
Ella used to chide me: "I know you think Eydie Gormé sings better than me… I know…" "No, I do not think she sings better than you, I think she understands the lyrics better than you, and imparts the story of the song better than you… but as a pure singer you have no peer." This was in the Algonquin Hotel when we were there during the Ella, Basie, Nat Cole show at the Paramount Theatre. I was working with Eydie and Diahann Carroll (a young svelte gorgeous black singer I also had a mad crush on) for their Vegas shows; this was going on as I was saying goodbye to Ella as I was leaving to meet Eydie at Lindy's.
Today, Buddy Bregman finds some of his youthful arranging work wanting, despite the simple brightness he brought to Ella's singing. "Among the charts that hold up well in the Porter album is "Love for Sale". I played against the lyric… the cynicism of the words and romanticism of the music played against each other. Even at that age I was slightly aware of why I did what I did. And Herb Geller's interpretation of my Alto Sax part adds the perfect touch of urban loneliness.
Years later, after the album had achieved classic status, Ella was playing the Royale Box of the old Americana Hotel in New York when I came in one night. Between a couple of Cole Porter songs, Ella paused and said, "I want to introduce the man who resuscitated my career…" I quickly scanned the dark room for Norman Granz. "…Buddy Bregman," she said.
ELLA FITZGERALD AT 75 - New York Times - April 25th, 1993
RE: COLE PORTER/RODGERS & HART SONGBOOKS
Arranged & Conducted by Buddy Bregman
When she (Ella) signed with Verve these records, made with mostly top-flight studio orchestras, have an aural freshness and balance that sound remarkably contemporary! The texture of Fitzgerald's voice, a thrillingly clear, slightly smoky alto that dipped alluringly into a bottom register and soared with full, ringing high notes into an upper soprano range, could only be fully appreciated in modern high-fidelity. That voice is arguably the most perfect all-around pop-jazz vocal instrument of the last half-century. Inaugurating the series was the 32-song 'Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook (arranged & conducted by Buddy Bregman), is the most famous in the series.
As pop sensibilities go, Fitzgerald and Porter were a most unlikely match. In overlooking Porter's wit and irony, Fitzgerald enshrined his romanticism and focused attention on his melodic brilliance, which she accentuated with jazz phrasing and ornamentation.
The importance of Fitzgerald's songbook albums has deepened over time. These recordings were instrumental in perpetuating the idea of American popular song as a classic form.
Buddy Bregman's COLE PORTER SONGBOOK and RODGERS & HART SONGBOOK -- double albums with ELLA FITZGERALD -- (both now platinum) both which he arranged and conducted, have been elected as two of the top 25 albums of all time in almost every magazine poll and Record Guide Book. A similar honor was accorded his album with BING CROSBY: "BING SINGS WHILST BREGMAN SWINGS" which he arranged and conducted. All were recorded on Verve, the record company Buddy helped start and served as head of A&R. All three (3) albums having gone platinum!
Jewel also polished her singing style while listening to what she calls her Bible, the classic album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook. Time Magazine July 21st, 1997
COMPLETE ELLA FITZGERALD SONG BOOKS (Verve 1994) Jazz Times-Doug Ramsey
It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the songbooks recorded by Ella Fitzgerald. She was at the peak of her powers and applied her gifts to a body of songs that comprise an artistic and cultural treasure. This set brings together all of the songbooks on 16 CDs packaged with imagination and, well, verve. The series began with Cole Porter and continued over eight years with Rodgers & Hart, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. The first time a major singer had concentrated on the output of a single songwriter was when Ms. Fitzgerald and Buddy Bregman made The Cole Porter SongBook.
The album's impact as a best seller revived the singer's career and brought Porter to the attention of generations that came along years after his celebrity of the 1920s, '30s and '40s. In the Rodgers & Hart Songbook, Bregman's charts are finely tailored to music and words. The singing is marked by absolute control and relaxation, and the lyrics by a knowingness that contradicts frequent charges that Ella pays more attention to the music than the lyrics.
The Rodgers & Hart album followed on the heels of Cole Porter. To the extent that there was now a formula, it was followed: attention to the verses, complete lyrics, and Bregman's skillful scoring. "This time at least I had a chance to think, so the charts were really much better than the ones I did for Cole Porter, although the charts were better, the sales were not as big. Although it was not quite as big a hit, I think the orchestrations I did were 10 times better. I wish I had had time to orchestrate more pieces. I don't like rhythm section accompaniment.
In "Bewitched", for example, an orchestra could have helped it build to "Thank God I can be oversexed again", of course Ella's wistfulness on the line never quite compared to Vivienne Segal's desperation on the line, after all she and Joey were 'having it off' quite a lot. I explained that at a rehearsal with Ella, but it was difficult. Ella and Viv, like apples and oranges, sweet and bitter, but never bittersweet. A 300+ lb. Artist vs. a broad who had seen it all and still wants more. It would have been like talking to myself. That was frustrating, but Viv had a whiskey/cigarette voice and then there was Ella's, so even though I didn't get the 'oomph' I needed from her and the 'oomph' I needed from a band. EVERYONE ALWAYS tells me how much they like my arrangement of "Bewitched"; WHAT ARRANGEMENT?!
ELLA FITZGERALD SINGS THE RODGERS & HART SONGBOOK ALBUM
A NOTE BY NORMAN GRANZ:
Most arrangers stamp their own identity in what they write, whatever the tune may be and it's rare the true spirit of not only the melody but also the lyric is captured. Primarily they compliment the vocalist and let it go at that. In this album, the rare exception transpires: Buddy Bregman accurately captures not only the soaring Rodgers melodies and the very special Hart lyrics, but the magic of Ella Fitzgerald's interpretation. I hated "With a Song in My Heart", which's why I didn't write a chart on it. On the other hand, "Give It Back to the Indians" was really clever. My kinda song - theatrical - brilliant, BRILLIANT lyrics and a melody that lent itself to do pyrotechnics with the orchestra, right out of Robert Russell Bennett (orchestrator on ALL Rodgers & Hammerstein's Broadway Shows) via Buddy Bregman's weirdo brain. It should have been sequenced next to that ode to New York City, "Manhattan", but I had nothing to do with the layout of the tracks.
I emphasized 3 soprano saxophones and made it more theatrical than usual for Ella. It's always fun practicing one's craft on a superstar.
But if their moment passed, their influence lingers. The 30-year-old guitarist Russell Malone recently recorded "All Through the Night" on his 2nd Columbia CD. "I discovered it listening to the Ella-Cole Porter album," he said recently.
Yet the songbooks have an even more fundamental impact than that. They change the way we hear our music today. They honor popular tunes in a way they have never been honored before. They make us think about songs in a different way. They assure us that we can take popular music seriously without sounding like boobs. They treat the songwriter as a composer and his music as a canon.
JULY 8, 2002 - TIME MAGAZINE - Article on Richard Rodgers' 100th Birthday
Read the words to those (Richard Rodgers) tunes -- ideally, in "The Complete Lyrics of Lorenz Hart," currently out of print but well worth tracking down. Listen to the songs -- ideally, on the double-album, "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers & Hart Song Book," the most magnif of Ella's eight Verve song books, with sensitive charts by Buddy Bregman.
My girlfriend Parisian-born Marie de Puthod and I were Ella's guests at her last Hollywood Bowl Concert. Afterwards, Marie and I went backstage to see her.
There was a queue of people waiting to see her, when her associate Val Valentine, (ex well-known recording engineer) saw me, he waved us in ahead of everyone else and we entered the inner sanctum of her dressing room.
Her doctor was with her feeling her ankles that had swelled and he didn't look happy. But Ella put out her arms to me and said, "My Buddy, how are you, honey? I love my Buddy!" We hugged and it was a wonderful moment.
Both Marie and I welled-up and tears formed in both of our eyes. Ella invited me to tea, but that never happened, as she became quite ill afterwards.
On the drive home I was reminiscing to Marie about Ella and remembered writing the first orchestration for the Cole Porter Song-book on my Grandmother (Nana Nellie) Bregman's dining room table. I was in Chicago at the time recording with Count Basie and Joe Williams and didn't want to stay in a hotel room because I needed a homey atmosphere to create the upcoming musical accompaniment for Ella. I wrote 3 ballad/string arrangements there: "Every Time We Say Good-bye", "Do I Love You", "Why Can't You Behave?" and "I Love Paris". Of course, there was no piano there, so waited until I got back to LA to check the scores for mistakes.
I guess I really appreciate Ella more now than when I was working with her. Although we got closer when we played Las Vegas at The New Frontier, and New York and once, when she asked me if I knew a certain arranger, which I did and could I fix her up with him, which I did. It was a funny experience; Me chaperoning Ella and this wonderful Italian guy who is also one of my arranging idols.
We could never have gotten too close as I was so much younger than she was, and absolutely raw when it came to arranging. I had only just had a hit with the Cheers on Capitol recording Lieber & Stoller's 'I Need Your Lovin.' And the only big band arranging I had done was for Las Vegas hotels and nightclub acts and the UCLA dance band. So I actually learned on the job.
I could have given Ella much more help had I been more experienced but I wasn't so I couldn't. But, being someone who does know what he wants, I gave her all that I could. And it seemed to have worked out. Even though, in retrospect, we both could have done better.
But, hey, why mess with success. Everybody I bump into here or in Europe knows my name from those two albums. Not from my BBC TV shows that I produced and directed, not from Count Basie or Joe Williams or Anita O'Day or Bing Crosby or Carmen MacRae, albums I arranged and conducted, etc... but Ella - Ella - Ella! Cole Porter or Rodgers & Hart Songbooks!
I had lunch with one of the black actresses from my casting session on July 9th and she said that those two Ella albums are her two favorite ones and she and her boy friend play them all the time - and she's 23!
It's obvious I have fond memories of Lady Ella - and she certainly was a lady, and when we dined together in Las Vegas or in New York or in LA, I was always in awe in her presence. Not so much because she was Ella, but because she personified class and greatness as a human being. That's what I remember most about her.
- Buddy Bregman - 29th July 1998
With its verse loaded with witty salvos ("As Dorothy Parker once said to her boyfriend 'Fare Thee Well'/As Columbus announced when he knew he was bounced, 'It was swell, Isabelle, swell'), Just One Of Those Things" is archetypical of both the humor and style of a Cole Porter song. Not surprisingly, it is among his most recorded and it appears on a critically-praised collection of his works, namely "Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook" (Verve) which was arranged and conducted by Buddy Bregman.
- Warner-Chappell Music
Ella Fitzgerald (voc), Buddy Bregman (arr, cond) and his orchestra
A new, great chapter in the history of jazz music occurred when VERVE, managed to win Ella Fitzgerald and initiated the Songbook Series which not only attracted a totally new listening public, but also establishes Ella's reputation as the "First Lady of Song".
The Cole Porter Songbook marks the glorious beginning!
The recording's success was practically a foregone conclusion. Porter had written hundreds of wonderful songs from which an initial choice of 50 songs before Ella and arranger Buddy Bregman finally decided upon what was, for them, the creme de la creme. The result was a list of 32 songs, all of which make easy listening
not only thanks to their melodic originality and harmonic genius but particularly to the wonderful amalgamation of the text - which Porter always wrote himself - and the music.
Each and every one is a classic in its own right. Bregman's arrangements never seek to disguise the fact that all these songs originated on Broadway, and Ella proves her greatness by finding something new in such old favourites as "Night and Day", "I Love Paris" and "I Get A Kick Out Of You."
And as if that wasn't enough, Bregman's orchestra sounds absolutely splendid. What a pity, many will say, that all 50 songs weren't recorded.
COLE PORTER/RODGERS & HART SONGS + SINGLES RECORDED BY ELLA & BUDDY
ELLA SINGS COLE PORTER:
Ace in the Hole
All of You
All Through the Night
Begin the Beguine
Do I Love You?
Don't Fence Me In
Easy to Love
Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
From This Moment On
Get Out of Town
I Am in Love
I Concentrate on You + alt. take
I Get a Kick Out of You
I Love Paris
(I'm) Always True to You in My Fashion
In the Still of the Night
It's All Right with Me
I've Got You Under My Skin
Just One of Those Things
Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love) + alt. take
Love for Sale
Miss Otis Regrets (Unable to Lunch)
Night and Day
So in Love
Too Darn Hot
What is This Thing Called Love?
Why Can't You Behave?
You Do Something to Me
You're the Top + alt. take
ELLA SINGS RODGERS & HART:
A Ship Without a Sail
Dancing on the Ceiling
Ev'rything I've Got
Give It Back to the Indians
Have You Met Miss Jones?
Here in My Arms
I Could Write a Book
I Didn't Know What Time it Was
I Wish I Were in Love Again
Isn't It Romantic?
It Never Entered My Mind
I've Got Five Dollars
Johnny One Note
Little Girl Blue
My Funny Valentine
My Heart Stood Still
Spring is Here
Ten Cents a Dance
There's a Small Hotel
This Can't Be Love
To Keep My Love Alive
(The) Lady is a Tramp
Wait Till You See Her
Where or When
With a Song in My Heart
You Took Advantage of Me
FIRST LADY OF SONG (ELLA):
Too Young For the Blues
+++Lots of stuff from Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hart
+Many albums culled from the complete SongBooks:
It's Only a Man
The Sun Forgot to Shine
Too Young For the Blues
No one sings like Ella. Her voice is a warm instrument in itself, and she flows through this set in comfortable perfection. This and the two other 'Best of the Songbooks' albums are simply outstanding. Every note she hits sounds like it's smack in the center of her comfort zone. 'There's a Small Hotel', more obscure, is magnificent, with a tasteful arrangement and rich performance by Buddy Bregman's orchestra. Treasureable.
FRANK RICH - NY TIMES
On Sunday on WQEW, Jonathan Schwartz was speaking of those songbooks when he called Fitzgerald "a great teacher." Sunday happened to be Father's Day, and I flashed back to age 7, when my father brought home the first of the songbooks -- two LP's of Cole Porter -- and first instructed me in a passion that I never outgrew.
In the songbook series she recorded for Verve she performed a cultural transaction as extraordinary as Elvis's contemporaneous integration of white and African-American soul: Here was a black woman popularizing urban songs often written by immigrant Jews to a national audience of predominantly white Christians. As Ira Gershwin said, in the line quoted in every obituary: "I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them." Most of the rest of us didn't know, either. By the time she had gone through the entire canon, songs that had been pigeonholed as show tunes or jazz novelties or faded relics of Tin Pan Alley, had become American classical music, the property and pride of everyone.
I have spent the last 3 weeks immersed in Ella's music, especially the Cole Porter Songbook. There is SIMPLY NOTHING LIKE THIS IN MUSIC, really! I am nearly in tears when she sings "I Love Paris" or "I Concentrate On You". The last time music touched me like this was The Beatles. I am 26 and supposedly, ought to be listening to grunge or metal or whatever, but this is as good as it gets. Its delightful, its delicious, it's our Ella!
Copyright © Buddy Bregman. All rights reserved.