Performers: Sarah Vaughan, vocals; Ronnel Bright & Kirk Stuart, piano;
Richard Davis and Buster Williams, bass; Art Morgan and George Hughes,
Studio: Jazz Icons (Distr. by Naxos) 21190004
Video: 4:3 full screen B & W
Audio: Dolby Digital mono
Extras: Illustrated booklet
Length: 65 minutes
It is with much pleasure that I review the Jazz Icons DVD from Sarah Vaughan, made up of three European concerts – Sweden in 1958 and 1964, and Holland in 1958. This DVD finds Vaughan in prime form. During this period, Sarah still had her girlish charm and her voice rivaled Ella Fitzgerald in both range and sweetness. In contrast, most of Vaughan’s U.S. television appearances that remain in circulation today are towards the end of her career, when her light had somewhat dimmed. That’s what makes these early concerts so special and confirm her talents that were formerly known only through audio recordings.
Sarah’s accompanists include top-rate bass players still on the scene today, Richard Davis and Buster Williams. Pianist Ronnel Bright is the keyboard player on two of the three dates, with Kirk Stuart on the 1964 Swedish session.
Song highlights are too numerous to list, but a few of them include Lover Man, Mean to Me, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Sometimes I’m Happy, I Feel Pretty, and Misty. Audio quality is fine for this time period, but it is the video quality where this release shines. You’ll find shadow-free sharp images of Sarah. The close ups are rich in detail, and it is a thrill to view the emotion that Sassy pours into her vocals. The comprehensive liner notes in the booklet by Patricia Villard are a nice bonus, as is the foreword by Sarah’s daughter, Paris. Highly recommended!
– Jeff Krow