Sarah Vaughan


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Ballads Review

by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Like other entries in Blue Note's excellent Ballads series, this collection features Sarah Vaughan on a number of mellow standards. The songs originate from a number of sessions Vaughan completed for Roulette between 1960-1963, and they are uniformly lovely. The settings range from the guitar/bass backing on "All or Nothing at All" to the orchestra backing on "Dreamy." Vaughan sings the tastefully arranged "You Go to My Head" with the help of the Count Basie Orchestra and the intimately quiet "In a Sentimental Mood" with guitarist Mundell Lowe and bassist George Duvivier. She slowly caresses each syllable of "'Round Midnight," "Solitude," and "Lover Man," delivering fresh takes on these commonly sung classics. A certain warmth also permeates "In a Sentimental Mood" and "If I Had You," filling each note with an air of regret. The reflective material seems tailor-made for that late hour when one's guests have departed and the cocktail glasses have been cleared. Ballads gathers 13 exquisite recordings in one place and captures Vaughan in exceptional voice. It's also enlightening to listen to how she approaches similar material when the arrangements are so divergent. To those unfamiliar with her Roulette work, Ballads offers a fine introduction.

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