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The Definitive Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington

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Album Review

This 20-track compilation released as a joint venture by Verve and Blue Note, covers a lot of ground — from 1943 to 1962 — but then, so did Dinah Washington. She sang down and dirty blues, lush ballads, romantic standards, sophisticated R&B, swinging jazz, and even country, and this disc gives a taste of each style. Her earliest recordings were rooted in the blues and are represented by 1943's low-down and nasty "Evil Girl Blues," 1951's "New Blowtop Blues," and the filthy and funny "Big Long Slidin' Thing" from 1954. By the mid-'50s Washington had segued into a more sophisticated jazz style. Her version of "Teach Me Tonight" from 1954 featuring Hal Mooney's orchestra is seminal, her recording of "White Gardenia" from 1955 nothing short of heartbreaking. She also did an incredible cover of Hank Snow's country hit "I Don't Hurt Anymore" in 1954. A nice inclusion is a live recording of "All of Me" from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival that finds Washington commandeering Terry Gibbs' vibraphone and banging out a solo. By time the late '50s rolled around, Washington had begun recording R&B and pop under the guidance of Belford Hendricks. In 1959 he teamed her up with Brook Benton and they had an R&B hit with the sassy "Baby, You've Got What It Takes." Washington had a hit on her own with a silky and very smooth version of "What a Difference a Day Makes" in 1960. She jumped to Roulette in the early '60s and recorded pop songs, three of which are included here. Washington was an unforgettable singer and The Definitive Dinah Washington shows just why that is so. Highly recommended.

Biography

Born: August 29, 1924 in Tuscaloosa, AL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s

Dinah Washington was at once one of the most beloved and controversial singers of the mid-20th century — beloved to her fans, devotees, and fellow singers; controversial to critics who still accuse her of selling out her art to commerce and bad taste. Her principal sin, apparently, was to cultivate a distinctive vocal style that was at home in all kinds of music, be it R&B, blues, jazz, middle of the road pop — and she probably would have made a fine gospel or country singer had she...
Full Bio

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