SARAH VAUGHAN SINGS BROADWAY: GREAT SONGS FROM HIT SHOWS gathers together on two CDs the great Autumn 1956 session that seemed to crystalize all of Sarah Vaughan's technical and stylistic resources, propelling the legendary Miss Sassy into the mainstream spotlight her talent so richly deserved. Sarah Vaughan was simply one of the greatest voices of the Twentieth Century, with an astonishing range that ranged from girlish soprano to a lush, surreal baritone (and in some odd quirk of nature, her range grew wider and deeper as she entered her autumnal years).
The formula for Miss Sassy's growing acceptance among the mainstream pop audience was simple and common enough. It wed Vaughan's dark, sultry voice to lush romantic string orchestra arrangements (mainly by Hal Mooney), and the odd taste of brass. In lesser hands, such an approach might have dated rather badly, but listen to the way Sarah Vaughan comes out of the verse on "Bewitched," the manner in which she extends and elasticizes the phrase "I-I-I-I'm wild again..." with her uniquely expressive vibrato, and bask in the presence of a master of jazz harmony and rhythm.
Such little details abound on SINGS BROADWAY. On an epic "Dancing In The Dark," Vaughan hits the word "dancing" with a braod vibrato that seems to key the arrangement's sense of swing, building to an operatic crescendo. On a wonderful "September Song" her subtleties of pitch convey the season's changing colors: and during a turnaround which hinges on a descending "and...,' she demonstrates remarkable harmonic grace, suggesting the twisting, wistful dance of a falling leaf with vocal leaps like the bowed double stops of a cello.