Sarah Vaughan – Sarah Vaughan

Artist: Sarah Vaughan

Year: 1950

Genre: Swing

Grade: B+

Consisting of eight songs later used on Sarah Vaughan in Hi-Fi, this self-titled 10” features a rising star showcasing her remarkable abilities.

Her voice, first and foremost, is mighty impressive. Though I’ve always preferred the charisma of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, Vaughan has her own unique charms. Father John Misty wouldn’t name-check her for nothin’.

On some spots on this collection, such as “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” she sways between croon and soulful affectation, which leaves the music to make the decision. And because the music is nothing more than background professional pop, it can’t be expected to answer the tough questions. Percy Faith’s easy-listenin’ arrangements are meant to be seen, not heard. Unfortunate.

Elsewhere, the lines between jazz and pop are much clearer. “It Might As Well Be Spring” finds a young Miles Davis carrying the way. But the album belongs solely to Vaughan — it is vocal jazz, after all. She may not be my favorite of the era, but there is no denying her tremendous talent.

Vaughan’s best performances bookend the record: the lilting “East of the Sun (West of the Moon)” and the jovial “Ain’t Misbehavin.” Sandwiched in between are several songs of which the only emotions I can gather are that of nostalgia. Ella and Billie would never leave me hanging like that.

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