Porgy and Bess (Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong album)

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Porgy and Bess
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 1959[1]
RecordedAugust 18–19 and October 14, 1957 in Los Angeles
GenreJazz, light opera, swing
LabelVerve MGV 4011-2
Verve MGVS 6040-2
Verve 827 475-2 (1990)
ProducerNorman Granz
Ella Fitzgerald chronology
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Porgy and Bess
Hello, Love
Louis Armstrong chronology
I've Got the World on a String
Porgy and Bess
Satchmo In Style
Professional ratings
Review scores
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide[3]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[4]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings[5]

Porgy and Bess is a studio album by jazz vocalist and trumpeter Louis Armstrong and singer Ella Fitzgerald, released on Verve Records in 1959. The third and final of the pair's albums for the label, it is a suite of selections from the George Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess. Orchestral arrangements are by Russell Garcia, who had previously arranged the 1956 jazz vocal recording The Complete Porgy and Bess.


In 1959, a big-budget film version produced by Samuel Goldwyn and directed by Otto Preminger arrived in theaters. To coincide with the film, many jazz and vocal versions of the work were produced on records, this one and the celebrated Miles Davis and Gil Evans collaboration among them. The double album was released in both mono and stereo, and on compact disc in 1990. It is also part of the set The Complete Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong on Verve issued in 1997. Given the nature of the work, only five tracks feature vocals by both Armstrong and Fitzgerald.


In 2001, it was awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, a special achievement prize established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance."[6] The album is considered the most musically successful amongst the jazz vocal versions of the opera.[7]

The AllMusic review of the album claimed "What's really great about the Ella and Louis version is Ella, who handles each aria with disarming delicacy, clarion intensity, or usually a blend of both... Pops sounds like he really savored each duet, and his trumpet work – not a whole lot of it, because this is not a trumpeter's opera – is characteristically good as gold. This marvelous album stands quite well on its own, but will sound best when matched with the Ray Charles/Cleo Laine version, especially the songs of the Crab Man, of Peter the Honey Man, and his wife, Lily the Strawberry Woman."[2]

Track listing[edit]

All music written by George Gershwin; all lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward except where noted.

Side one[edit]

1."Overture" (instrumental) 10:52
2."Summertime"DuBose Heyward4:58
3."I Wants to Stay Here" (Fitzgerald solo vocal) 4:38

Side two[edit]

1."My Man's Gone Now" (Fitzgerald solo vocal)DuBose Heyward4:02
2."I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'" 3:52
3."Buzzard Song" (Fitzgerald solo vocal)DuBose Heyward2:58
4."Bess, You Is My Woman Now" 5:28

Side three[edit]

1."It Ain't Necessarily So"Ira Gershwin6:34
2."What You Want Wid Bess?" (Fitzgerald solo vocal)DuBose Heyward1:59
3."A Woman Is a Sometime Thing" (Armstrong solo vocal)DuBose Heyward4:47
4."Oh, Doctor Jesus" (Fitzgerald solo vocal) 2:00

Side four[edit]

1."Here Come de Honey Man / Crab Man / Oh, Dey's So Fresh and Fine"DuBose Heyward3:29
2."There's a Boat Dat's Leavin Soon for New York" (Armstrong solo vocal)Ira Gershwin4:54
3."Bess, Oh Where's My Bess?" (Armstrong solo vocal)Ira Gershwin2:36
4."Oh Lawd, I'm on My Way!" (Armstrong solo vocal with chorus)DuBose Heyward2:57


  • Ella Fitzgerald — vocals
  • Louis Armstrong — vocals; trumpet on "Summertime," "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'," "It Ain't Necessarily So," "A Woman Is a Sometime Thing," and "There's a Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon for New York"



  1. ^ Billboard Apr 13, 1959
  2. ^ a b "Porgy and Bess > Review". AllMusic. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  3. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. pp. 12. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  5. ^ Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (9th ed.). London: Penguin. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-14-103401-0.
  6. ^ Grammy Hall of Fame Database
  7. ^ "Jazz Appreciation Month looks at an Ella and Louis Collaboration". KUVO. 2020-04-17. Retrieved 2023-08-26.

External links[edit]