Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sarah Vaughan – Dreamy

   Although she didn’t accept her jazz designation, Sarah Vaughan (1924-1990) was one of best jazz singers after 2nd World War. Her album with Clifford Brown was included to Grammy Hall of Fame nine years after she gone. In late 40’s she was jazz prodigy, decade later her vocal technique was so versatile, she was able to sing blues or pop music, in 70’s she was full range creative singer performing with jazz combos and symphonic orchestras, big-bands and various instrumentalists. According to her own words, she was not only a jazz singer, defining herself rather as a singer in more universal meaning. The interpretative skills of the singer were enough to sing in various styles. Sarah Vaughan’s powerful, deep and vibrant voice was factor that really matter in her musical career. But first of all was personality of the jazz singer.
   The music education of future singer started in her childhood in Newark, New Jersey. Sarah’s father played guitar and piano, her mother sung in the church choir. Whole family was deeply religious and active in New Mount Zion Baptist Church She was taking piano lessons, singing in church choir, accompanying rehearsals and services. In 1943 as the prize in amateur singing contest, she was proposed by Apollo Theater one week performances as openings for Ella Fitzgerald. During this week heard her performance Billy Eckstine who recommended Sarah to Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines who was pianist and band leader. This was turning point in her career. In 1944 she made her phonographic debut for Continental as Sarah Vaughan and Her All Stars. Five years later she recorded Sarah Vaughan in Hi-Fi for Columbia. From 1953 she started regularly recording, sometimes few records a year for EmArcy and Mercury.

Sarah Vaughan – Dreamy (1960)

   In 1960 Sarah Vaughan had signed an exclusive contract that bounded her for the five years with Roulette company. During the period of 1960 to 1964 she recorded for this label 15 albums. Later she was recording mainly for Mercury, Mainstream and Pablo. Popular repertoire and style were characteristic for Roulette years. Songs were produced in typical 3 minute timeframes. Interpretative ideas and meanings of vocal expression were slightly limited. Album Dreamy had all these qualities. It was released in 1960, and was the first Roulette production. In fact the whole production was still controlled by jazz musicians. Jimmy Jones was pianist and arranger of swing era, working as sideman with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Clark Terry, Don Byas and many others. He was also a member of Coleman Hawkins’ 52nd Street All Stars. In late 50’s he joined Sarah Vaughan’s Trio and took part in recording two albums for Mercury – Swingin’ Easy (1957) and Sarah Vaughan At Mister Kelly’s (1958).
   The first Sarah Vaughan’s album recorded for Roulette was entirely arranged and conducted by Jimmy Jones. It was intended to be the entrance of clear and strong impact, with Sarah’s portrait by William Hofmann on the cover. Among “some of the best musicians in the recording field”, as it was announced in the linear notes, the featured one was Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison playing trumpet with clear and warm sound. He was one of very popular musicians these years and recorded with the best artists. He was long term member of Count Basie Orchestra and for more than three decades he was playing with Ella Fitzgerald bands. Success of this record and next Roulette productions gave Sarah Vaughan strong position on vocal jazz scene. She became popular and her position in show business was more stable. Although the attitude of the popular music is characteristic to this album it can be considered as general direction in sixties which has been later clearly changed. Three stars for style and quality.

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