Sarah Vaughan: 'The Quintessence'

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Cover of The Quintessence

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Listen: Mean to Me I

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Note: This CD is out of print.

MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: A.B. Spellman, one thing that I like about collections of 78-rpm records on compact discs is that you get a lot of songs on them. And here, on Sarah Vaughan's The Quintessence, we get 36 tunes by the young Sarah Vaughan, including that "Mean to Me," which is one of my favorite records of all time. These selections traced her from two years after she won the famous talent show at the Apollo Theater in 1942 until 1948, when she was a rising star among jazz singers.

A.B. SPELLMAN, National Endowment for the Arts: Yes, Murray, we hear Sarah as a shy and innocent band singer in her early 20s, whose protectors included Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, if you can imagine such wild men guarding somebody's virtue. Here, she sings "Loves Was Just an Interlude," which most of you will recognize as "Night In Tunisia."


HORWITZ: You know, Sarah Vaughan kept very good company in those days. She recorded with some of the greatest names in jazz. This collection features solos by Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Teddy Wilson, Bud Powell, and lots of others.


SPELLMAN: Wonderful solos by them, Murray, and there's some good writing there too. The great Tadd Dameron gave her this original song, beautifully arranged. For my money, it's the best ballad of the bebop period.


SPELLMAN: It's just a marvelous thing to listen to a budding talent bloom into genius. By 1947 and 1948, Sarah Vaughan was blowing like the instrument that she always considered her voice to be. She had extended the definition of a jazz singer to dimensions that had not been conceived before.


HORWITZ: The collection is Sarah Vaughan, The Quintessence. It's an import, on the Fremeaux & Associates label. For information about this and other records in the Basic Jazz Record Library, please consult our Web site. For NPR Jazz, I'm Murray Horwitz.

SPELLMAN: And, I'm A.B. Spellman.



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