Sarah Vaughan's recordings of the 1940s tend to be with big bands and string sections. Depending on your taste for the symphonic or operatic Vaughan, this collection of tunes done between 1945 and 1947, originally for the Musicraft label and initially reissued on CD by the Drive Archive label in 1997, emphasizes some of the orchestral arrangements Vaughan favored, but it is not one that concentrates on ballads. Most of the material is midtempo, the charts are generally not syrupy, and you get an occasional small group assisting the Divine One. Because of the narrow chronological focus, you hear Vaughan working on her craft, developing her vocal sound in different ways, and melting into the band's music like few other vocalists can. To varying degrees, optimal results occur, although on some tracks Vaughan's voice is submerged or under-produced. The musicianship is always solid, making for a pleasing listening experience, especially when you can identify the many fine musicians -- generally unattributed -- on this recording. The two-plus-two tracks that bookend this CD are the most sugary, with strings and thin voice reproduction, with backing from the Ted Dale Orchestra, though Al Gibson's clarinet shines through and "I Feel So Smoochy" is playful and not violin-dominant. Three tracks with the Teddy Wilson Orchestra are the best big-band cuts, as the song of getting along "Don't Worry 'Bout Me" and the beautifully evocative "September Song" show Vaughan at her best alongside Wilson's tinkling piano or the tenor sax of Charlie Ventura. Two selections with the George Treadwell band are outstanding, as you hear the signature tune of surrender "Everything I Have Is Yours" and the insular, pining "I'm Through with Love," definitive Vaughan without question. One selection apiece with the Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker group, the Georgie Auld Orchestra, and the Billy Taylor Trio plus guitarist Remo Palmier span 1945, 1946, and 1947, respectively, giving you a progression of the diverse sounds that Vaughan favored behind her. The Diz/Bird take of "Lover Man" is a classic beyond reproach, the Auld band for "A Hundred Years from Today" is locked in a better sound production with vibrato and the singer in a lower key, while the Taylor quartet with bassist Al McKibbon and drummer Kenny Clarke do "Gentleman Friend" right, as guitarist Palmier joins for a crisp, professional reading of this sly elegy of encroachment. While not definitive, this time-capsule collection of music should please anyone wanting a quick standard burst or a new taste of the most amazing vocalist in pop/jazz ever, early in her stellar career.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos