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Album Review

In the 21st century, the jazz vocal field is full of upstart female vocalists who go out of their way to emulate the late Sarah Vaughan — artists who feel that the best way to honor her memory is to try to sound exactly like her. The problem is that Sassy was truly irreplaceable; so instead of aspiring to be clones, the best thing jazz newcomers can do is search for their own voices. That isn't to say that they shouldn't be Vaughan-influenced — only that they should work on developing their own identities — and for newcomers, there is much to be learned from a fine collection like Anthology (especially when it comes to warmth, feeling, charisma and soulfulness). Spanning 1944-1963, this 23-song, 77-minute CD takes a look at Vaughan during a 19-year period — and from "I'll Wait and Pray" in 1944 to a 1963 performance of Lionel Hampton's "Midnight Sun" (arranged by Gerald Wilson), she demonstrates just how compelling vocal jazz can be. The material is, for the most part, offered in chronological order, thus enabling one to hear the transition from scratchy 78-era sound to good '50s hi-fi mono to early stereo; one also hears some deepening in Vaughan's voice during those 19 years (although certainly not to the degree that her voice deepened in the '70s and '80s). But whatever the amount of deepness in her voice, Anthology never fails to illustrate the singer's originality; Vaughan is as distinctive on Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia" in 1944 and Juan Tizol's "Perdido" in 1950 as she is on Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight" in 1963. Anthology is far from the last word on Vaughan in the '40s, '50s or early '60s; it is, however, a nicely assembled collection that paints a consistently attractive picture of Vaughan's first 19 years as a recording artist.


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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