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Ken Burns JAZZ Collection: Sarah Vaughan
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
This is a superb introduction to Sarah Vaughan's vocal art, spanning her career from its beginnings in 1944 to 1985 and demonstrating her astonishing combination of gifts, with the luxuriant sound of her voice stretching f... more »
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This is a superb introduction to Sarah Vaughan's vocal art, spanning her career from its beginnings in 1944 to 1985 and demonstrating her astonishing combination of gifts, with the luxuriant sound of her voice stretching from warm, evocative ballads to scintillating scat. From the outset of her career, Vaughan was adept at the harmonic subtleties of the newly emerging bop, apparent here in "Interlude," a vocal version of Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia" with the composer adding brash trumpet, as well as in "I Love You," a duet with Billy Eckstine. Every track is a career highpoint, with Vaughan's blend of lyric nuance and virtuosity making songs like "Misty," "My Man," and "Send in the Clowns" absolutely her own. Her performances here are consistently complemented by brilliant soloists, including trumpeter Clifford Brown, tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims, guitarist Joe Pass, and bassist George Duvivier, while her own piano playing enhances the intimacy of "Nearness of You." --Stuart Broomer
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Sarah Vaughan, from "girl singer" to jazz diva.
Mary Whipple | New England | 10/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This fascinating CD traces the career of Sarah Vaughan through sixteen recordings made from 1944 through 1985, showing her development from a restrained singer backed by high-powered instrumentalists, to one of the most creative jazz singers in history. The first three (early) tracks show off her soprano range as she sings quietly and romantically, her power completely hidden beneath the trumpet of Dizzy Gillespie and a full band on "Interlude," and beneath nine "unknown strings" and a full band on "If You Could See Me Now," where she sounds remarkably like Helen Forrest. In "I Love You," she sings a duet with Billy Ekstine and the full Joe Lipman Orchestra, giving little hint of her jazz potential.
By 1950, however, she begins to use her lower range and sing more uptempo songs, and with 1954's "They Can't Take That Away From Me," recorded with her own trio, she begins to sound like the mature Sarah, still a bit quiet, but getting jazzier, improvising, and playing with the melody. Here, the spotlight is on her, the accompaniment kept to the background. Her ability to tell a dramatic story in song comes to the forefront in "A Sinner Kissed an Angel," where she takes some liberties, and in the sensational "Poor Butterfly," sung almost a capella, taking advantage of her full (enormous) range, and, for the first time, her vibrato.
In "My Man" (1967), her voice deepening and filling out, she is a torch singer, totally in control and willing to take jazzy chances with the melody. Of special note is 1973's "The Nearness of You," a live recording and one of the rare occasions in which she accompanies herself on piano, dramatically singing with the piano off-tempo as she provides variations with the harmonies and improvises.
The high point of the CD is "Autumn Leaves," from her 1982 Crazy and Mixed Up album (her most brilliant jazz recording, see ASIN B000000XLS), full of scat and so full of variations and improvisations that it is difficult even to recognize Johnny Mercer's basic melody. Here Vaughan takes full advantage of her range and power and dispenses with the saccharine sweetness so common to other recordings of this song. With Joe Pass on guitar, Roland Hanna on piano, and Harold Jones on drums, she is at her absolute peak here. Choosing many of Vaughan's highlights, Burns shows her evolution over forty years into one of the greatest and most versatile jazz singers who ever lived. n Mary Whipple
G. Sawaged | Canada | 08/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sarah Vaughan has one of the most beautiful voices ever. And this cd is a wonderful place to start for those people who are not too familiar with her music, as well as those who are big fans. With songs from the years 1944 through to 1985 and covering different record labels, this is a great compilation, showing her many styles. "The nearness of you" is just Sarah singing and playing piano, truly magical. Plus, "Send in the Clowns" is absolutely spellbinding. The 12 page booklet includes photos and an essay about Sarah which is very informative. This album really is a must-have for all music lovers."
The history of a great vocalist
A. L. Mussari | Devon, PA | 08/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This CD covers her career well. It includes the rare Interlude cut. No serious collector can pass this by."