Various Artists

The Essential Jazz Singers

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This box contains three CD samplers that are also available individually. Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan are featured on 16 selections apiece that are drawn from their Verve recordings. While Lady Day is primarily heard during her declining years, bolstered by all-star swing combos (with the exception of "Don't Worry 'Bout Me," which is an orchestral track from her final recording session), Sassy is in prime form, whether joined by an orchestra, a big band (including Count Basie's), the Jimmy Jones Trio or dueting with her lifelong friend Billy Eckstine. Ella's program is particularly wide-ranging, for on various tracks she collaborates with arranger Nelson Riddle, Jazz At The Philharmonic, Marty Paich's Dektette, Duke Ellington, pianist Paul Smith (a duet rendition of "Angel Eyes"), Billy May, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and her regular combo (including Ella's famous version of "Mack The Knife"). None of these hodgepodge collections are programmed in chronological order, although the recording dates and personnel are given. The set (which has many highlights) is primarily recommended to beginners, for jazz collectors will prefer a much more comprehensive program.

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