WBGO Radar

Sarah Vaughan: Live At Rosy's

Sarah Vaughan, Live At Rosy's, New Orleans, Jazz, Vocals, Vocalist, Singer

IN THE LATE 1970’S SARAH VAUGHAN WAS AT THE TOP OF HER GAME.  AT AGE 54 SHE WAS IN THE MIDST OF AN ESPECIALLY PRODUCTIVE AND REWARDING PERIOD IN HER ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER AND TRAVELLING THE WORLD WITH A TRIO THAT WAS AS TIGHT AS A DRUM. TO BE SPECIFIC, THE DRUMMER WAS NONE OTHER THAN JIMMY COBB, FAMOUS FOR HIS WORK WITH MILES DAVIS AND WES MONTGOMERY AMONG OTHER LUMINARIES.  BASSIST WALTER BOOKER JOINED VAUGHAN’S TRIO NOT LONG AFTER AN EXTENDED TENURE WITH CANNONBALL ADDERLEY AND HER PIANIST AND ARRANGER WAS CARL SCHROEDER. WITH A WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE BEHIND THEM AS A UNIT, THIS TRIO WAS COMPLETELY ATTUNED TO SARAH VAUGHAN’S EVERY MUSICAL MOVE. SHE HAD THE FREEDOM TO GO ANY WHERE HER CREATIVE GENIUS MIGHT TAKE HER. THEY SEEMED TO BREATHE AS ONE, SWINGING EFFORTLESSLY ON UPTEMPO TUNES AND WITH THE SAME MASTERY, MAINTAINING A RELAXED AND GRACEFUL GROOVE ON EXQUISITELY SLOW BALLADS. THIS IS THE SARAH VAUGHAN WE HEAR ON LIVE AT ROSY’S.

ROSY’S WAS A CLUB IN NEW ORLEANS DESIGNED BY HEIRESS ROSALIE WILSON AS A VENUE IN THE SOUTH WHERE JAZZ ARTISTS, PARTICULARLY AFRICAN-AMERICAN JAZZ ARTISTS, COULD COME AND FEEL SAFE, RESPECTED AND GENUINELY WELCOMED.  SARAH VAUGHAN WAS BOOKED FOR A WEEK AT THE END OF MAY 1978 AND TIM OWENS, THE PRODUCER OF THE PEABODY AWARD WINNING NPR SERIES JAZZ ALIVE! HOSTED BY DR. BILLY TAYLOR CAME DOWN TO THE CRESCENT CITY TO RECORD MS. VAUGHAN FOR THE SHOW. AS IS MOST OFTEN THE CASE, THE CREW RECORDED MORE MUSIC THAN WAS ACTUALLY USED FOR THE BROADCAST. NOW, THANKS TO OWENS AND RESONANCE RECORDS PRODUCER ZEV FELDMAN, SARAH VAUGHAN FANS CAN ENJOY TWO SETS, NEARLY 90 MINUTES WORTH OF MUSICAL MAGIC, NEVER BEFORE RELEASED.

EVERY ASPECT OF VAUGHAN’S SEEMINGLY UNLIMITED VOCAL GIFTS ARE ON DISPLAY. IN THE EXTENSIVE LINER NOTES THAT ACCOMPANY THIS TWO CD SET, JAMES GAVIN WROTE, “…HER DARK-CHOCOLATE VOICE HAD MORE THAN SURVIVED 36 YEARS OF PROFESSIONAL SINGING; HER ART HAD ONLY GROWN IN SPLENDOR. SHE TOOK DUSKY PLUNGES AND GLIDES UP TO FLUTY SOPRANO HIGHS; SHE COLORED THE THREE OCTAVES IN BETWEEN A WEALTH OF TEXTURES, FROM GRAVEL TO VELVET.”     

SARAH VAUGHAN WAS INDEED “THE DIVINE ONE” BUT ROSY RECALLED UPON MEETING THE LEGENDARY ARTIST FOR THE FIRST TIME, SARAH SAID, “WE’RE GOING TO HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEK! AND BY THE WAY, CALL ME SASSY!”  IN THE INTIMATE CLUB SETTING, SARAH’S SASSINESS BUBBLES OUT OF HER AS SHE ENGAGES IN PLAYFUL ONSTAGE BANTER. SHE INTRODUCES HERSELF AS CARMEN McRAE AND WHEN A MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE CONFUSES HER WITH ELLA FITZGERALD BY REQUESTING ELLA’S SIGNATURE SONG, “A-TISKET, A-TASKET”, SARAH HANDLES IT WITH GREAT HUMOR AND APLOMB. THE MISTAKEN IDENTITY THEME CARRIES THROUGH TO THE END WHEN VAUGHAN INTRODUCES BILLY TAYLOR AS BILLY STRAYHORN.

WHILE THESE SASSY MOMENTS ADD SOME CHARM, IT IS SARAH VAUGHAN’S SINGING THAT TRULY CAPTIVATES. SHE SINGS A NUMBER OF SONGS THAT HAD BEEN PART OF HER REPERTOIRE FOR DECADES…”EAST OF THE SUN”, “POOR BUTTERFLY”, “I REMEMBER YOU”, BUT DELIVERS THEM AS IF FOR THE FIRST TIME.  SARAH DEMONSTRATES HER PROWESS AS A SCAT SINGER ON “I’LL REMEMBER APRIL”, SHE MESMERIZES THE AUDIENCE WITH “EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE”, SWINGS HARD ON “THE MAN I LOVE”, TAKES US THROUGH A BUNCH OF RHYTHM CHANGES ON “FASCINATING RHYTHM”, TUGS ON OUR HEARTSTRINGS WITH “I GOT IT BAD AND THAT AIN’T GOOD” AND SHE BRINGS THE DRAMA TO “MY FUNNY VALENTINE.”  IT’S A REAL TREAT TO HEAR A LIVE VERSION OF THE MARCOS VALLE COMPOSITION “IF YOU WENT AWAY” (PRECISO APRENDER A SER SÓ), A TUNE THAT APPEARED ON HER ALBUM I LOVE BRAZIL WHICH VAUGHAN COMPLETED IN RIO DE JANEIRO ABOUT SIX MONTHS BEFORE THE GIG AT ROSY’S. HOWEVER THE PIÈCE DE RÈSISTANCE THAT LEAVES THE AUDIENCE SPELLBOUND IS HER RENDITION OF STEPHEN SONDHEIM’S “SEND IN THE CLOWNS.”

SARAH VAUGHAN – LIVE AT ROSY’S IS A GIFT THAT WILL KEEP ON GIVING FOR GENERATIONS TO COME. THIS PRECIOUS RECORDING WILL BE RELEASED ON FRIDAY, MARCH 25TH.   SARAH VAUGHAN WAS BORN IN NEWARK ON MARCH 27, 1924.   AS WE APPROACH THE 92ND ANNIVERARY OF HER BIRTH, ANOTHER HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT EVENT IS SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE. ON TUESDAY, MARCH 29TH, THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE WILL HONOR SARAH VAUGHAN WITH A COMMEMORATIVE FOREVER STAMP. A FIRST-DAY-OF ISSUE CEREMONY WILL BE HELD THAT DAY IN THE SARAH VAUGHAN CONCERT HALL AT NEWARK SYMPHONY HALL.   

Rhonda Hamilton
Midday Jazz

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