SARAH VAUGHAN / “The Divine One Intimate Mixtape”
You know the cliché: “they don’t make them like this anymore,” etc. etc. In general, such clichés are not just exaggerations, too often the alleged appropriate nuggets of wisdom are actually sloppy and inexact if not flat-out wrong. But when we’re speaking of female vocalists in popular music, comparing today’s soloists to Sarah Vaughan in her prime, well, that’s when the cliché paradoxically becomes an understatement. Referring to Sassy Sarah Vaughan as The Divine One was not theatrical hyperbole. Believe the hype. She had an entrancing contralto voice that was both rich and imaginative. She had the technique and control associated with classical music but also the creativity and passion characteristic of jazz. Unlike most vocalists, then and now, Sarah Vaughan was also an accomplished musician who could have easily forged a career as a pianist had there not been an insistent demand for her to sing. Sarah Lois Vaughan was born March 27, 1924 in Newark, New Jersey. She died of cancer April 3, 1990. Her major recording career extended from the mid-fifties through the eighties. She came of age during the Swing Era but first made her mark nationally during the rise of Bebop in the forties when she recorded with the luminaries of the new music such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie on the hip side of the street and also recorded in duet with popular band leader and vocalist Billy Eckstine. During her long recording career most of her albums were classified as either jazz or pop. She also had a handful of successful recordings of Brazilian music. Live recordings often featured her with her trio and studio albums surrounded her with either big bands and orchestras or with strings, and sometimes with both large horn ensembles and strings. Regardless of the instrumentation, the hallmark was Sarah’s rich, creamy vocal timbers that glided from beguiling low notes to dazzling highs in unerringly pitch-perfect glissandi and long tones. In the early sixties while under contract with the Roulette label, Ms. Vaughan completed two albums backed only by guitar and double bass. These albums have since been recognized as classics. After Hours (1961) featured Mundell Lowe on guitar and George Duvivier on bass. Sarah + 2 (1962) featured Barney Kessell on guitar and Joe Comfort on bass. Whether singing unusual selections such as the languid “Key Largo” or the show song “My Favorite Things” (that was popularized in 1961 by saxophonist John Coltrane reintroducing the soprano saxophone into modern jazz), or performing the classic Ellington ballads “Sophisticated Lady” and “In A Sentimental Mood,” on these two recordings Sarah sensitively demonstrated why she had been nicknamed The Divine One. The beauty of her voice is matched by subtle vocalizations that became her trademark. With minimal musical accompaniment the emphasis is all on Sarah’s voice and how she shapes the melodies and shades the harmonies. These meditative and intimate interpretations are quintessential examples of the vocal artistry of Sarah Vaughan. Relax and be beguiled by The Divine One. Enjoy the music of Sarah Vaughan. —Kalamu ya Salaam The Divine One Intimate Mixtape Playlist After Hours 01 “Easy To Love” 02 “Sophisticated Lady” 03 “My Favorite Things” 04 “In A Sentimental Mood” 05 “Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye” Sarah + 2 06 “When Sunny Gets Blue” 07 “Baby, Won't You Please Come Home” 08 “Key Largo” 09 “All Or Nothing At All” 10 “The Very Thought Of You”
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