Nat King Cole. Sure, he and Sarah Vaughan both had hit releases of “Nature Boy,” but they also were a couple of the hottest pop singers of the 1940s—and both dressed to the nines and looked as sharp as anyone on stage at the time.
Clearing my mind at the end of a very long day and drinking something very smooth, with the lights turned low.
Jules Dassin’s Night and the City—only the best for Harry Fabian and his plot to rise above the nightclub rackets of postwar London.
Of the superstar jazz vocalists from the 20thcentury, Sarah Vaughan’s voice is the most elusive. Among jazz fans, only the most cretin music lover would fail to recognize a Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald vocal. Sarah Vaughan, on the other hand, can leave a bit of uncertainty in all but the true aficionado when it comes to identifying her voice. Vaughan possessed an amazingly wide range, exceptional breath control, and a second-to-none tonal palette. She therefore brought a vaster range of emotion and dynamics to her singing than most anyone else.
Vaughan came up the ranks during WWII, staring with several of the notable big bands. A few years after the war’s end, she signed with Columbia and was launched to stardom as a solo act. During her Columbia tenure, her recordings focused on pop ballads, but when she signed with Mercury Records in 1953, she cemented her reputation as on of the jazz greats. Columbia still had a trove of material in the can and selected a number of her hit singles (mostly from 1949), such as “Black Coffee,” for release on After Hours with Sarah Vaughan.
This 1955 release is, of course, mono. For those who think this is a good thing (count me in), the recording shows off just how good mono recording technology, and Columbia’s version of that technology, happened to be in the late 1940s. Vaughan’s vocal delivery is well captured and the (uncredited) band fills a wide space around her. Pure Pleasure’s reissue presumably stems from a European safety copy. A close comparison to an original “6-eye” label original pressings reflects a slight loss of texture, showing a slightly dryer acoustic and small loss of depth in the soundstage. Still, the tapes have held up remarkably, and you would be hard pressed to identify the vintage of this wonderful music by the sound quality.
Last chance to change your mind...