Various Artists

Jazz Divas: Gold

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There are no less than 20 CD compilations on the market with the words "Jazz Divas" in the title, and another eight that use the phrase "Divas of Jazz." Those two nouns, so carelessly bandied about, describe improvising female vocalists whose works are an extension of a tradition established by Bessie Smith, Adelaide Hall, Ethel Waters, Mildred Bailey, Ivie Anderson, Valaida Snow, Una Mae Carlisle, and Lee Wiley, none of whom appear on Verve's 2007 double-disc anthology titled Jazz Divas: Gold. Although a collection this diverse is vulnerable to criticism, particularly in regards to the song choices that were made, the temporal range -- May 1938 through June 1997 -- allows for a healthy overview of stylistic evolution. Thirty singers are represented here, with Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, and Nina Simone checking in twice (each of the five has her own volume in Verve's Gold series). This is a mainstream selection; while the omission of Ada Moore, Jeanne Lee, and June Tyson is therefore not surprising, the absence of Pearl Bailey, Betty Roché, and Etta Jones is most unfortunate. On the positive side, it's an entertaining survey of mostly great recordings made over a span of six decades by a variegated assortment of female jazz vocalists.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:39 Amazon
2 02:46 Amazon
3 03:17
4 03:04 Amazon
5 03:08
6 03:06
7 04:01
8 05:15
9 05:19
10 03:22
11 04:21
12 03:01
13 02:28
14 04:08 Amazon
16 03:19
17 03:04 Amazon
18 03:57
blue highlight denotes track pick