Sarah Vaughan: Sarah + 2 – Pure Pleasure Records 180 Gram Vinyl LP Release July 2019 PPAN SR152118 ( Original stereo release Roulette Records 1962 ) 37:51****
( Sarah Vaughan – vocals; Barney Kessel – guitar; Joe Comfort – bass)
Sarah Vaughan was a singer with an extraordinary voice that few vocalists might ever have the good luck to possess. With a four octave range, coupled perfect pitch and control, she could bend notes as she wished, as well as swoop and scat, all of which made her a formidable jazz singer. This is the artist we hear on the beautiful remastered release from Pure Pleasure Records entitled Sarah + 2.
Recorded with the sympathetic support of guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Joe Comfort, Vaughan puts her personal stamp on a variety of standards that allowed her to interpret the corners and niches of the lyrics she was singing. This session is an appropriate mixture of ballads and moderate up tempo swingers such as the Betty Comden, Adolf Green Jule Stein tune “Just InTime” written for the Broadway musical Bells Are Ringing in 1956. Filled with warmth and suppleness, Vaughan seamlessly glides through the number.
Following on is the jazz standard “When Sunny Gets Blue” written by Marvin Fisher and Jack Segal and was initially recorded by Johnny Mathis in 1956. Although the original opening line reads:”when Sunny gets blue, her eyes get grey and cloudy”. Vaughan decided to change pronoun from female to male and thus: “ his eyes get grey and cloudy” and does so in the appropriate places throughout the balance of the number. This does not change the essential character of the composition, as Vaughan’s expansive voice and dynamic range provides the ballad interpretation a smooth projection.
“All I Do Is Dream Of You” is given a very pleasant twist as Vaughan’s first run though of the melody is performed at a languid pace. Then the gears shift. In a breezy and up-tempo mode, both Comfort and Kessel dig in to give the number a frame that reboots the pace over which Vaughan scampers.
There were points in Vaughan’s career where her vocal excesses and overwrought arrangements seemed to get in the way of her natural talent. But none of that is in evidence here. Her marvellous articulation and stunning vibrato gave each of the numbers a wonderfully harmonic sophistication. Additionally, there was ample evidence that the seamless interplay and the easy give and take between Vaughan, Kessel and Comfort turned out to be a wonderful idea.
The previously noted essential qualities can be found on all the material presented on this release. But on Side 2 “When Lights Are Low”, “Key Largo” and “Just Squeeze Me”, Vaughan’s voice is unembellished as she caresses the lyrics. It is easy to appreciate the relaxed spontaneity of the music making that was recorded during the session.
If you are a Sarah Vaughan fan, or better yet, if you have for one reason or another, remained on the sidelines, this release is as good as it gets. With superb remastering by Ray Staff at Air Mastering, Lyndhurst Hall, London, you will be treated to a jazz recording that shows Vaughan’s broad range and ability to shift octaves and notes, yet stay within herself.
Just In Time
When Sunny Gets Blue
All I Do Is Dream Of You
Baby Won’t You Please Come Home
When Lights Are Low
Just Squeeze Me
All Or Nothing At All
The Very Thought Of You
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