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.”     …