The cartoon drawing of Ella Fitzgerald on the cover of Gold may lead some to equate this with the parade of pitiful compilations foisted on the market by budget labels, but this two-disc set arrives from Verve, the home of Ella's finest recordings. Listeners wanting a brief overview of the most swinging female in history couldn't do much better than this -- assuming, of course, that they don't need informed liner notes or full discographical information on these performances. Overwhelmingly from the '50s and early '60s, Gold compiles 39 excellent performances and wisely focuses on her songbook recordings of the era, heavy on Cole Porter, George & Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Rodgers & Hart. Not every song here comes from a songbook, though. Also included is Ella's stunning, legend-making 1960 performance of "Mack the Knife" at a Berlin concert. ~ John Bush
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