With cooperation from the Verve and Columbia Legacy catalogs, the Ken Burns Jazz series on CD individually spotlights the musical excellence of 22 jazz originators whose careers and influence are explored in Burns' PBS documentary Jazz. Sarah Vaughan is in the elite triumvirate of 20th century jazz and popular music vocalists, matched by Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday in creativity and vocal ability. Vaughan spent the majority of her career as a soloist, accompanied through the years by various orchestras under the direction of George Threadwell, Ernie Wilkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, Tadd Dameron, Hal Mooney, and Quincy Jones, all briefly represented on this disc. These 16 tracks, recorded for an assortment of labels including Mercury, Pablo, EmArcy, Musicraft, and Columbia, move from early bop-oriented material ("Interlude") to middle-of-the-road pop/jazz ("Misty," "I Feel Pretty"), concluding with a 1985 version of "Send in the Clowns." Sarah Vaughan maintained her miraculous voice throughout a career spanning five decades. While it's impossible to sum up Vaughan's history on a single disc, the highlights on Ken Burns Jazz retain enough interest for the listener to continue searching out more of her material.
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AllMusic Review by Al Campbell