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The Definitive Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan

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Album Review

This joint venture between Blue Note and Verve captures the sweet and sassy sounds of Sarah Vaughan at her best as recorded by Emarcy, Mercury, and Roulette. The 16-song compilation is arranged chronologically and kicks off with a duet between Vaughan and the man who discovered her, Billy Eckstine, recorded in 1949 before moving to her mid-'50s recordings for Mercury and Emarcy. She was equally at home recording with large orchestras, small jazz ensembles, or piano, bass, and drums. Highlights from this period include her wonderfully swinging album Swingin' Easy, which she recorded with her trio of John Malachi on piano, Crazy Joe Benjamin on bass, and Roy Haynes on drums. The track "Shulie a Bop" is taken from this album and features a great scat solo. At the same time she was cutting some swinging jazz sides with big-name players like Clifford Brown, she was recording string-filled ballads with orchestral backing like "Tenderly," which was cut in 1954 with Hugo Peritti's orchestra. She would continue this approach all throughout her career, and this CD does a good job of showing both sides of Vaughan. Other highlights from the compilation include a desperately romantic version of "Lush Life" cut in 1956 with Hal Mooney's orchestra, a near operatic rendition of "My Man's Gone Now" from 1957 that shows off Vaughan's powerful vibrato, and a laid-back and swinging take on "The Sweetest Sounds" from 1967 backed by the incredible brass section of Freddie Hubbard, Clark Terry, Charlie Shavers, and Joe Newman. The Definitive Sarah Vaughan has a couple of non-fatal flaws: there are only two songs from her five-year tenure at Roulette and an over-reliance on the orchestral ballads. Throw in a couple more swinging tracks and the discs would be really special, but it is still a nice overview and is recommended to anyone who wants to check out the early work of the divine Sarah Vaughan.

Customer Reviews

a very bad deal

How can there be a partial definitive album? Why would anybody buy it?

Biography

Born: March 27, 1924 in Newark, NJ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Possessor of one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century, Sarah Vaughan ranked with Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday in the very top echelon of female jazz singers. She often gave the impression that with her wide range, perfectly controlled vibrato, and wide expressive abilities, she could do anything she wanted with her voice. Although not all of her many recordings are essential (give Vaughan a weak song and...
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The Definitive Sarah Vaughan, Sarah Vaughan
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