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Album Review

One of many fine EmArcy titles Dinah Washington recorded in the '50s, Dinah! includes a very enjoyable mix of medium-tempo and after-hours vocal numbers. On a handful of cuts, Washington gets into the kind of smoldering and declamatory blues mode she excelled at, especially on "All of Me" and "There'll Be Some Changes Made." Showing her versatility, Washington also shines on relatively tame pop numbers, like the album's waltz-tempo version of "Look to the Rainbow" and an easy strolling "Accent on Youth." Even here, her vocal power comes through, albeit with the blues phrasing mostly kept under wraps. On "A Cottage for Sale," Washington seems to harness all her vocal talents, creating a dazzling mix of jazz phrases, dramatic tonal shifts, and bluesy exclamations, all enveloped in a weary and melancholic tone befitting a breakup song. Besides this gem, other standout selections include "More Than You Know" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." Hal Mooney provides solid, if not terribly provocative big-band and strings arrangements, with fine solos and obbligato passages coming from former Benny Goodman tenorman George Auld and West Coast jazz luminaries like trombonist Frankie Rosolino and alto saxophonist Herb Geller. Washington's rhythm section at the time, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Keeter Betts, and drummer Jimmy Cobb, provide stellar rhythmic accompaniment throughout. A top Dinah Washington date, and a fine place to start for newcomers to the singer's catalog.


Born: 29 August 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 the time. Hers...
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