The Ella Fitzgerald Songbook

Friday 3rd July, 7.30pm

They called her the First Lady of Song, and no-one’s ever sung the Great American Songbook with more style – and joy – than Ella Fitzgerald. Tonight’s show brings together one of the most glorious voices on the international jazz scene with the swinging orchestral arrangements from Ella’s own albums, for a deluxe tribute to Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Irving Berlin and Rodgers & Hart: a golden age of popular song.


Review by Paul Marston, BehindtheArras:

Click here for full review (also in Birmingham Mail here)

…     “It’s an awesome task to follow Ella Fitzgerald whose performances with the Great American Songbook were the stuff of legends, but attractive blonde Martin, a mother of one from Brighton, was superb and quick to acknowledge the part played by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Versatile conductor Laurence Cottle brought the best out of the musicians, and the audience also appreciated some impressive solo contributions from saxophonists, trumpeters and trombonists.

Jazz singer Martin, who said she had been looking forward to her Symphony Hall appearance for two years, opened with Lerner & Loewe’s Almost Like Being in Love, followed that with many other classics, and the audience joined her enthusiastically for the finale, Cole Porter’s Every Time We Say Goodbye.”     …


Review by Selwyn Knight, ThePublicReviews:

Click here for full review

…     “So the concept of a concert celebrating Fitzgerald’s songbook is at once an exciting but also nerve-wracking thought. Can anyone today hope to step into her shoes? If anyone can, surely a jazz singer who has won an OBE for her services to jazz should be a contender. That singer is Claire Martin OBE. And, of course we need musicians of the highest calibre led by someone with Ella’s music running in his blood. There can be no doubt that the mighty City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is one of the finest groups of musicians you can find, and for this tribute to Fitzgerald, it is under the baton of Laurence Cottle, whose wide ranging career has seen him play with such jazz luminaries as Pee Wee Ellis and with Ronnie Scott’s All Stars. All the ingredients are there for a very special night celebrating the Great American Songbook, and Fitzgerald’s contribution to its continuing longevity.

Martin is indeed an exceptionally fine singer. Her voice is vibrant and warm, her range wide. Like Fitzgerald, she is at home with extensive scat – as evidenced in a break during Blue Skies during which one gets an inkling of how it may have sounded to hear the jazz greats improvising to a theme as soloist after soloist stands and plays. Some songs, including This Time The Dream’s on Me and All Too Soon including a beautiful muted trumpet solo, are sultry, others really swing, like Manhattan with its clever rhyme schemes, and Who Cares? Martin isn’t reverential, however, refusing to take herself too seriously, for example in Cheek to Cheek, to which she brings plenty of personality.”     …


Friday Night Classics: Puttin’ on the Ritz

Friday 1 July 2011 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121-780 3333

City of Birmingham Symphony Orhcestra

John Wilson conductor
Kim Criswell vocalist
Gary Williams vocalist

Youmans/Kahn/Eliscu: Flying Down to Rio
Berlin: Top Hat
Berlin: Cheek To Cheek
Kern/Fields: Pick Yourself Up
Kern/Fields: A Fine Romance
Kern/Dougall: I’ll Be Hard To Handle
Kern/Fields: The Way You Look Tonight
Berlin: Puttin’ On The Ritzv Conrad/Magidson: The Continentalv Gershwin: Walking The Dog
Gershwin/Gershwin: Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off
Gershwin/Gershwin: Slap That Bass
Gershwin/Gershwin: They All Laughed
Gershwin/Gershwin: Shall We Dance?


Berlin: Steppin’ Out With My Baby
Berlin: It Only Happens When I Dance With You
Berlin:A Couple of Swells
Lane/Lerner: You’re All The World To Me
Lane/Lerner: Too Late Now
Lane/Lerner: How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I’ve Been A Liar All My Life?
Schwartz/Dietz: Dancing In The Dark
Gershwin/Gershwin: They Can’t Take That Away From Me
Gershwin/Gershwin: Let’s Kiss and Make Up
Gershwin/Gershwin: Clap Yo Hands

Encore Schwartz/Dietz: That’s Entertainment

Pick yourself up and dust yourself off at the end of the week, and indulge in an evening of great music from the golden age of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Conductor John Wilson has a real passion for these songs, and it’s easy to see why, with hit after hit by George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern – brought to you by star vocalists Kim Criswell and Gary Williams. Top hat, white tie and tails are optional, but expect smooth glamour and tuneful exuberance perfect for an uplifting summer’s night. That’s entertainment!