Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Sarah Vaughan, Woody Herman|
1963 Live Guard Sessions
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Unique CD, with Vaughan and Herman at their peaks.
Mary Whipple | New England | 05/26/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A recording from a radio show in 1963, this is a unique CD--Sarah Vaughan and Woody Herman never made a commercial recording. Part of a radio series emceed by Martin Block specifically to promote a National Guard recruiting effort, the program was broadcast live. In an effort to make the show sound like a cabaret performance, we hear Block engaging in artificial, scripted, and sometimes silly interview patter with both Vaughan and Herman, neither of whom sounds natural, and both of whom use "Well, Martin..." as an intro to their answers.
Once Block and the patter subside, however, the CD shows Vaughan and Herman at their musical peaks. The CD holds eight Vaughan solo tracks and seven Herman instrumentals, with one track featuring Herman singing. Vaughan's range is enormous, her upper register still very high and very strong. She can sing at any tempo, is enormously flexible with her phrasing, and can hold a note forever. Herman's "Midnight Sun," "Muskrat Ramble," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and "Woodchopper's Ball" are terrific, and the four longest tracks on the CD are his. As a singer on "Don't Go With Strangers," however, Herman is a great clarinetist.
Vaughan's solo tracks include "The More I See You," in which she slows the tempo, singing this as a very romantic ballad, before experimenting with phrasing and the melodic line. "Green Dolphin Street" has a syncopated beat and jazzy piano and clarinet (Herman) accompaniment. "I'll Be Seeing You," another song sung unusually slowly, allows Vaughan to showcase her range. On this track, she sings the highest notes I've ever heard her sing, then slides effortlessly into almost bass range. "I Cried for You" is her wildest number, and "Poor Butterfly," a trademark song, is her closer.
Overall, the album is a good one for those who especially love Vaughan and Herman, but it is dated in its presentation, and technical excellence was not an issue for the radio program. Occasionally, on Herman's tracks, the baritone saxes sound muddy. On "Woodchopper's Ball," there is distracting talking in the background and even a spatter of applause (which does not appear anywhere else on the album). Even with this format, however, Vaughan is a musical wonder. A unique CD from a unique time in the lives to two stellar musicians, this one has some great moments and fine tracks, once the listener gets past the patter and distractions. n Mary Whipple