One of many fine vocal roundups to be culled from the deep vaults at Verve, Essential American Singers may not fully live up to its title, but it certainly delivers a rich store of top jazz vocals from the '50s and '60s. While the jury is still out on Al Hibbler and Ernestine Anderson, "essential" definitely applies to the likes of Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, and Joe Williams. Relatively dark-horse figures like Shirley Horn and Arthur Prysock certainly fit rather snugly in this regal company, too. And in the case of Jimmy Witherspoon, he, like Williams, gets a special designation as one who was at home in both jazz and blues settings. A good place to start your classic vocals collection.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook