Walkman Jazz: Sarah Vaughan

by: Sarah Vaughan

The Compact Jazz budget series offers jazz newcomers an ideal way to sample some of best material from the post-bop years. The vocal titles are especially impressive, with nicely selected discs featuring Anita O'Day, Helen Merrill, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, and Arthur Prysock. The Divine One, Sarah Vaughan, is appropriately given the best of the lot: a 16-track edition that focuses on her early prime stretch of 1954-1958, taking in a glorious mix of full-band cuts and combo sides. Bookended by two numbers from her stellar and boppish 1954 date with Clifford Brown ("Lullaby of Birdland," "Embraceable You"), the collection includes several glowing strings sides that feature the charts of Hal Mooney and Quincy Jones, as well as handful of more swinging cuts with bands led by Count Basie, Ernie Wilkins, and J.J. Johnson; the collective lineup of these last three outfits includes the cream of the day's hard bop talent. Topped off with two trio pieces featuring pianist John Malachi, bassist Joe Benjamin, and drummer Roy Haynes, Vaughan's Compact Jazz disc is the perfect way to get familiar with the singer's many charms and incredible vocal range. ~ Stephen Cook

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