Top Artists – Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan – The Lonely Hours

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  • The Lonely Hours debuts with killer Hot Stamper sound – this copy took top honors with Triple Plus sonics on both sides
  • No other copy could touch this early Roulette pressing for size, space, clarity, dynamics and, most especially, vocal richness
  • With Benny Carter brilliantly handling the arrangements, we feel that this is a badly underrated album of Ms Vaughan’s from 1964, a glorious year for music
  • “Vaughan sounds excellent on “I’ll Never Be the Same,” “These Foolish Things,” and “If I Had You,” lightly caressing the notes.”

Wonderfully warm, big and clear, not to mention exceptionally dynamic, this copy shows the listener just how good the master tape must be.

Not only could no other copy touch it; as far as I can tell it’s the only copy with two sides good enough to put on the site!

Classic Records remastered this album back in the day, and I can see why: the average pressing on Roulette is borderline unlistenable. Of course we didn’t know that when we started this shootout. We had found a nice sounding copy and subsequently went on the hunt for more. Little did we know how wide the variation in sound quality we would find on the original Orange Label pressings. There was simply no denying that many of the copies we played were just too thin, shrill and pinched in the midrange to be of any interest to our Hot Stamper customers.

As mediocre as Bernie’s Classic cutting may be, it’s still better than the average Roulette original one might throw on the turntable. And you can forget the monos completely; they were by far the worst sounding of them all.


Sarah and Her Remarkable Pipes

Vaughan’s New York Times obituary described her as a “singer who brought an operatic splendour to her performances of popular standards and jazz.”

Fellow jazz singer Mel Tormé said that Vaughan had “…the single best vocal instrument of any singer working in the popular field.” Her ability was envied by Frank Sinatra who said that “Sassy is so good now that when I listen to her I want to cut my wrists with a dull razor.” The New York Times critic John S. Wilson said in 1957 that Vaughan possessed “what may well be the finest voice ever applied to jazz.”

Vaughan’s vibrato was described as “an ornament of uniquely flexible size, shape and duration,” a vibrato also described as “voluptuous” and “heavy.” Vaughan was also accomplished in her ability to “fray” or “bend” notes at the extremities of her vocal range. It was noted in a 1972 performance of Leslie Bricusse and Lionel Bart’s “Where Is Love?” that “In mid-tune she began twisting the song, swinging from the incredible cello tones of her bottom register, skyrocketing to the wispy pianissimos of her top.”

Though usually considered a “jazz singer”, Vaughan avoided classifying herself as one. Vaughan discussed the term in an 1982 interview for Down Beat:

I don’t know why people call me a jazz singer, though I guess people associate me with jazz because I was raised in it, from way back. I’m not putting jazz down, but I’m not a jazz singer…I’ve recorded all kinds of music, but (to them) I’m either a jazz singer or a blues singer. I can’t sing a blues – just a right-out blues – but I can put the blues in whatever I sing. I might sing ‘Send In the Clowns’ and I might stick a little bluesy part in it, or any song. What I want to do, music-wise, is all kinds of music that I like, and I like all kinds of music.

Wikipedia

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Lonely Hours
I’ll Never Be The Same
If I Had You
Friendless
You’re Driving Me Crazy
Always On My Mind

Side Two

Look For Me, I’ll Be Around
What’ll I Do
Solitude
These Foolish Things Remind Me Of You
The Man I Love
So Long, My Love

AMG  Review

The Lonely Hours, Sarah Vaughan’s contribution to the genre of saloon song LPs, doesn’t have a stellar selection of material — although of course nearly anything recorded by one of America’s foremost jazz interpreters is worth hearing.

Add to that the special treat of Benny Carter — the seminal altoist who’d been contributing charts to the hottest big bands since 1928 — occupying the arranger’s chair, and The Lonely Hours becomes a very intriguing proposition. Carter’s refined arrangements and ensemble playing don’t exactly reinforce the isolation of the title, but Vaughan sounds excellent on “I’ll Never Be the Same,” “These Foolish Things,” and “If I Had You,” lightly caressing the notes.

For “You’re Driving Me Crazy” and “What’ll I Do,” she cleverly mirrors the comic frustration embodied in Carter’s flügelhorn/tuba ensemble.

The Lonely Hours is a solid match of vocalist and arranger in most respects, with only the quality of the material weighing it down slightly.

Sarah Vaughan – At The Blue Note

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

A superb copy with top quality sound throughout. This album has the same track listing as the rare ten-inch ‘The Divine Sarah Sings’ but with a few extra tracks included. (more…)

Sarah Vaughan – Sarah Slightly Classical

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  • ‘Sarah Slightly Classical’ debuts with KILLER sound – this copy took top honors with Triple Plus (A+++) sonics on both sides
  • No other copy could touch this early Roulette pressing for size, space, clarity, dynamics and, most especially, vocal richness
  • About as quiet as we can find them — Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • “Vaughan cuts loose on numbers such as “Be My Love,” “Intermezzo,” “Full Moon and Empty Arms” and “Ah Sweet Mystery of Life.”

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Sarah Vaughan – You’re Mine You

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  • Vaughan’s wonderful 1962 album on the original Roulette stereo pressing makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are exceptionally low-distortion, solid and dynamic, with the natural, relaxed, analog warmth and richness missing from the Classic Records pressing (and most likely missing from whatever current reissue is on the market)
  • “This LP finds Sarah Vaughan backed by big-band and string arrangements from Quincy Jones that could easily have been used for a Frank Sinatra date. Vaughan’s voice is typically wondrous… In the repertoire are such tunes as “The Best Is Yet to Come,” “The Second Time Around” and “Baubles, Bangles and Beads.”

(more…)

Sarah Vaughan – Golden Hits – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is Sarah in her prime – the recordings date from 1954-58. A good overview of her Mercury recordings.

We’ve been fortunate to have a number of excellent sounding Sarah Vaughan records hit our turntable over the course of the last few years, but this is officially our first Sarah Vaughan shootout title to make it to the site.

Most of the reason for this unfortunate fact can be attributed to the lack of clean copies of her prime albums for Mercury sitting in our local record store bins. Her best albums are either missing or scratched. (Plenty of Pablos and Mainstreams, sure, but we have never been all that impressed with either label’s recordings of vocalists.)

This Greatest Hits album apparently stayed in print long enough to produce the supply necessary for one of our shootouts, and the result is we now have some wonderful Sarah Vaughan performances with superb sound to share with our customers. (more…)

Sarah Vaughan – Sassy

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  • Sarah Vaughan’s brilliant Sassy album from 1956 finally debuts on the site, and what a copy it is, taking top honors with Triple Plus (A+++) sonics on both sides
  • No other copy could touch this original Blue Label Mono Emarcy pressing for richness, space, clarity, dynamics and, most especially, vocal intimacy
  • If all you know is the grainy, bright and warmth-challenged Speakers Corner pressing from years back, the one we gave a failing grade to of course, then our Shootout Winner here should be a sonic treat you have never experience before
  • An original Emarcy pressing that has no audible marks and plays as quietly as this one does is a rare find indeed – it seems to be the quietest copy from our shootout, and even better, IT WON

(more…)

Sarah Vaughan – After Hours At The London House

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Don’t waste your money on the mono pressings.

The sound is third rate at best.

Leave ’em in the bins for the jazz guys with Garrard turntables

and speakers that are still sitting on milk crates.

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The original pressings we played were not remotely competitive

with the best Hot Stamper reissues we will be offering.

 

  • Vaughan’s 1959 live album finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • No other copy could touch this pressing for warmth, richness, and, most especially, vocal intimacy and in-the-room presence
  • The multiple takes Sarah Vaughan does on Thanks for the Memory here blows my mind to this very day – pull it up on youtube and hear it for yourself
  • “… the producers invited a small group of friends and well-wishers to another Chicago club, London House, for an after-hours session. Vaughan expanded her trio with a quartet of Count Basie titans, including trumpeter Thad Jones and tenor Frank Wess, and… decided to record a set that, in true after-hours fashion, was completely improvised.”

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Sarah Vaughan – Send In The Clowns

More Sarah Vaughan

More Send In The Clowns

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  • This outstanding pressing, only the second copy to EVER hit the site, boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Huge and powerful, Basie’s horns are really blastin’ on this copy
  • Sassy’s remarkable vocal range and flexibility are on full display here, singing favorites including “I Got A Right To Sing The Blues,” “When Your Lover Has Gone,” and, of course, the title track 
  • “Sarah Vaughan is accompanied by her regular rhythm section of the early ’80s, guitarist Freddie Green, and the Count Basie horn sections on this enjoyable date… Sassy is in superb form…” – Allmusic

A wonderful recording by one of our favorite engineers, Dennis Sands, the man behind the amazing Basie album, Farmers Market Barbecue. (more…)

Sarah Vaughan – Golden Hits (1954-58)

More Sarah Vaughan

More Golden Hits

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  • Excellent sound throughout with each side rating a solid Double Plus (A++) or BETTER – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Surprisingly dynamic on both sides – this pressing lets you hear The Divine One when she really was that good
  • This is Sarah in her prime, presenting the listener with an especially good overview of her best Mercury recordings from 1954-58

Wonderful space and most of the richness that makes these ’50s recordings (many by the legendary Robert Fine) so wonderfully natural.

Big, lively and highly resolving. A powerful low end too (which has to be Fine’s doing).

We’ve been fortunate to have a number of excellent sounding Sarah Vaughan records find their way onto our turntable over the course of the last few years, but this is our first official Sarah Vaughan shootout title to make it to the site.

Most of the reason for this unfortunate fact can be attributed to the lack of clean copies of her prime albums for Mercury sitting in our local record store bins. Her best albums are either missing or scratched. (Plenty of Pablos and Mainstreams, sure, but we have never been all that impressed with either label’s recordings of vocalists.)

This Greatest Hits album apparently stayed in print long enough to produce the supply necessary for one of our shootouts, and the result is we now have some wonderful Sarah Vaughan performances with superb sound to share with our customers. (more…)

Sarah Vaughan – After Hours on Emus

More Sarah Vaughan

More After Hours

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last, this copy of After Hours put the living, breathing Divine One right between our speakers
  • With simple arrangements, featuring Mundell Lowe’s guitar and George Duvivier’s double bass, Vaughan’s soulful voice can take center stage
  • This copy was pressed on exceptionally quiet vinyl – it plays as quietly as any copy we have ever heard
  • “…a quiet and intimate affair, with Vaughan more subtle than she sometimes was… some fine jazz singing.”

This early Emus Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio, this is the record for you. It’s what Vintage Records are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds. (more…)