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Sarah Vaughan: Jazz Classics and Sarah

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Album Review

With cooperation from the Verve and Columbia Legacy catalogs, the Ken Burns Jazz series on CD individually spotlights the musical excellence of 22 jazz originators whose careers and influence are explored in Burns' PBS documentary Jazz. Sarah Vaughan is in the elite triumvirate of 20th century jazz and popular music vocalists, matched by Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday in creativity and vocal ability. Vaughan spent the majority of her career as a soloist, accompanied through the years by various orchestras under the direction of George Threadwell, Ernie Wilkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, Tadd Dameron, Hal Mooney, and Quincy Jones, all briefly represented on this disc. These 16 tracks, recorded for an assortment of labels including Mercury, Pablo, EmArcy, Musicraft, and Columbia, move from early bop-oriented material ("Interlude") to middle-of-the-road pop/jazz ("Misty," "I Feel Pretty"), concluding with a 1985 version of "Send in the Clowns." Sarah Vaughan maintained her miraculous voice throughout a career spanning five decades. While it's impossible to sum up Vaughan's history on a single disc, the highlights on Ken Burns Jazz retain enough interest for the listener to continue searching out more of her material.


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 she might strangle it to death), Sarah Vaughan's legacy as a performer and a...
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