Sarah for Lovers is a 16-track compilation of tracks recorded from 1954 to 1967 for Verve and EmArcy that focuses on the romantic side of Sarah Vaughan. Most of the songs feature orchestral backing, though a handful have small-group backing, most notably the two tracks from 1954's Swingin' Easy: "Words Can't Describe" and her dreamy take on "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" with some hilarious drums by Roy Haynes. The orchestral tracks can be a little sappy, especially when Vaughan is backed by Hal Mooney's Orchestra, as she is on "I've Got a Crush on You," "Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe," and "My Romance," or when she is backed by Hugo Peretti's Orchestra on "It's Magic" and "I'm in the Mood for Love." Songs she did with Quincy Jones' Orchestra are more successful; even though the three songs here feature strings, they still swing a little. The small-group tracks are where Vaughan really shines. Apart from the tracks from Swingin' Easy, there is a quartet track, "Embraceable You," from 1954's Sarah Vaughan; another track from that album, "I'm Glad There Is You," that features a larger group including Clifford Brown and is arranged by the always innovative Ernie Wilkins; a mellow take on "Corcovado" from 1964's Viva! Vaughan; and a sweet take on Henry Mancini's "Dreamsville" from 1964's underrated Sarah Vaughan Sings the Mancini Song Book that does feature strings but in a fairly unobtrusive manner. Sarah for Lovers is certainly full of romantic songs but the compilers of the disc may have trouble pleasing their intended audiences. Fans of jazz vocals may find the orchestral tracks to be too much in the easy listening realm. People who just want mellow background music may be put off by the dynamic vocals of Vaughan. Add to that the fact that fans of Sarah Vaughan will likely have better compilations than this in their collections already and this disc ends up being inessential at best.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra