Saturday, August 20, 2011


Sarah Vaughan and her Trio - Live at Kelly's (1958)

Along with her frequent collaborator Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan was one of the first artists to bring bop and swing into the popular consciousness in the 1940's. Their Big Band spawned such talents as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Art Blakey, to name but a few. So if you've ever enjoyed any of these people's music, you now know who to thank. Now, if that list of Jazz Giants seems intimidating, make no mistake about it; Vaughan's command of her instrument was no less sure and true than Miles' over his horn, or Blakey's over his drumsticks. Her voice is warm and rich and her control is unbelievable, even - or perhaps especially - when she forgets the lyrics and begins scatting and giving affectionate shout-outs to Ella Fitzgerald on "How High the Moon", an album highlight. As I sit here listening to "Dream", I can understand why one of Sarah's many nicknames was "The Divine One" (another one was "Sailor" because of her love of swearing). Hers is a voice so fantastic it's almost enough to make a confirmed atheist consider the possibility of the existence of the Almighty. Also, the between-song patter on this extremely intimate recording is priceless, giving you a real sense of the obviously immense personal magnetism that made Vaughan such a long-lived favorite among aficionados of Great American Music.

Had I heard it before? Only a few of the songs.
Do I like it?  Oh, yes.
Am I keeping it? Yep.
If I had to seek out only one song by this artist, what should it be? "Whatever Lola Wants", most definitely.
Standout Tracks? "How High the Moon", "Thou Swell", "It's Got to be Love", "Honeysuckle Rose", "Embraceable You", "Dancing in the Dark", "I Cover the Waterfront"

Ah, what the heck. Here's a video featuring stills of Vaughan while she sings her signature song, "Whatever Lola Wants":

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