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VAUGHAN, Sarah: Come Rain or Come Shine

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'Come Rain Or Come Shine' Original Recordings 1949-1953

Throughout jazz history, there have been manytalented singers, ranging from Louis Armstrong(who defined jazz singing), Bessie Smith andBillie Holiday to Anita O'Day, Joe Williams, MelTorme, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Kurt Elling.

To many, Ella Fitzgerald was the perfect jazzsinger, always being in-tune, swinging andinterpreting lyrics with joy. One of the few othervocalists who deserve to be in the same sentencewith Ella is Sarah Vaughan, whose voice was sotremendous that it deserves its own category.

When listening to a Sarah Vaughan record, itis difficult not to want to exclaim 'What a voice!'Her range was very wide, her tone wasconsistently beautiful and she had the ability todo anything she wanted with her instrument. Inaddition, she was one of the first singers to reallyunderstand bebop, resulting in modern phrasingand an adventurous choice of notes, even whenshe was heard in a commercial pop setting.

Sassy (Sarah Vaughan's lifelong nickname)was born 27 March 1924 in Newark, New Jersey.

She received training as a pianist andoccasionally in later years would play piano for asong or two in public. In addition, she sang inchurch and her brilliance was obvious from anearly age. In 1943 the teenage Vaughan won anamateur contest at the Apollo Theater. SingerBilly Eckstine heard her and recommended Sassyto bandleader-pianist Earl Hines, who hired herboth as a singer and as a second pianist. TheEarl Hines Orchestra at the time also includedCharlie Parker (on tenor) and trumpeter DizzyGillespie but tragically the pioneering beboporchestra did not record due to the MusiciansUnion strike; not even a radio broadcast exists.

In 1944, Billy Eckstine formed his own bigband, soon hiring Sassy along with Gillespie andParker. While Vaughan only recorded one songwith the Eckstine Orchestra, she learned a greatdeal during this period as can be heard on herfirst record session as a leader, four titles from31 December 1944 that are quite boppish.

Sarah Vaughan left Eckstine in 1945 and,after a few months being featured with the JohnKirby Sextet, by early 1946 she was on her own.

Her solo career was successful from the start andVaughan's popularity never dropped. During thenext forty years, she was quite consistent andnever had an off period.

Sassy's best recordings of the 1946-48period are on the previously released Naxoscompilation Trouble Is A Man (8.120763). ComeRain Or Come Shine covers 1949-53, the erawhen, having graduated from Musicraft,Vaughan was recording regularly for Columbia, amajor label whose records were well distributed.

Branching out beyond the jazz world, SarahVaughan was often accompanied by stringorchestras during this period as her records weresold to a pop market. However her singingalways retained its jazz sensibilities and much ofits spontaneity.

I Cried For You serves as a perfectintroduction to the 25-year old's singing. Whilepaying respect to the melody and the wordsduring the two choruses, she also shows offmuch of her range, altering notes here and there,and showing that there was no limit to what shecould do with her voice. The studio big band,led by arranger Hugo Winterhalter, swings andalso hints at bebop.

Black Coffee, a lowdown blues with lyrics fullof yearning and helplessness, became a hit withSassy's version reaching No.13 on the popularitycharts. Cole Porter's obscure Bianca is from thesame session and has the Joe Lippman Orchestra(which includes a vocal group and a stringsection) boasting some strong trumpeters and aswinging rhythm section.

During 21-22 December 1949, SarahVaughan was featured on two very differentsessions. The earlier set begins with a classicballad rendition of You're Mine, You. Sassysounds quite beautiful, sliding betweenunexpected notes. The accompaniment by theJoe Lippman Orchestra on this selection wasarranged by the versatile bop writer TaddDameron. The band is full of swing all-starsalthough they stick to ensembles. HoagyCarmichael's The Nearness Of You starts outwith the rarely-heard verse and is taken very slow,with only pianist Jimmy Jones backing Sarahbefore the full band comes in during the chorus.

At no moment does Vaughan waver or hesitate.

Few other singers could swing so confidently atthis laidback a tempo. Summertime is also takenat a more relaxed pace than usual, with bassistEd Safranski adding tension and suspense to theaccompaniment.

The following day, Sassy had her firstrecorded musical reunion with Billy Eckstine, fiveyears after she had sang with his orchestra. Theirvoices blend together beautifully, showing thatEckstine was one of the few male singers whocould hold his own with Vaughan. On DedicatedTo You, Mr B even echoes one of her phrasessuccessfully while You're All I Need is a love songsung between two close lifelong friends.

During 18-19 May 1950, Sarah Vaughanrecorded her one out-and-out jazz project forColumbia, resulting in eight titles of which six areincluded here. Sassy is joined by an all-star octetthat includes trumpeter Miles Davis and threeother cool-toned soloists: clarinettist Tony Scott,trombonist Bennie Green and tenor-saxophonistBudd Johnson. All of the performances are classicsand have their memorable moments. Can't GetOut Of This Mood, a song that deserves to beheard more often, has short solos by three of thefour horn players, all but the trumpeter. Incontrast, Miles Davis is prominent throughout ItMight As Well Be Spring and his melancholyhorn fits perfectly with Sassy, as does Scott'sclarinet at the song's harmonized conclusion.

Mean To Me was formerly closely associatedwith Billie Holiday, but it is obvious from thebeginning of this performance that Vaughan'sinterpretation owes nothing to any previousversion. Her final chorus is worthy of any majorsaxophonist. Come Rain Or Come Shine istaken slow and is full of subtle invention. NiceWork If You Can Get It swings happily and has anice spot for Miles Davis. Vaughan recordedEast Of The Sun at her first session as a leaderand it remained in her repertoire for over adecade. Listen to those low notes she hits andholds with apparently no effort.

My Reverie, a classical melody by Debussythat became a hit in the late 1930s for LarryClinton's orchestra with Bea Wain on the vocal,was revived for a Sarah Vaughan date in 1951.

Sassy does things to the melody that oneimagines neither Debussy nor Bea Wain couldoriginally imagine.

It has been often said that with her voice,Sarah Vaughan could have been an opera singer.

She came closest to that idiom during this erawhen she sang religious-based material such asher emotional versions of City Called Heavenand Ave Maria.

With its wide intervals and advancedharmonies, Spring Will Be A Little Late his Yearcan be a little difficult to sing, but not for Sassy,who glides effortlessly throughout the song. ABlues Serenade, made famous by Bing Crosbytwenty years earlier, uses most of Sarah's range.

She hits the high notes with as much confidenceas the low ones.

This rewarding collection concludes withPerdido, which by 1950 was already a jazzstandard. While more closely associated withElla Fitzgerald who scatted throughout it, Sassytakes \Perdido" slightly slower and emphasizesthe words but her performance is no lessswinging and miraculous in its own way.

Sarah Vaughan would have many othermiraculous musical moments in a career thatlasted until shortly before her 3 April 1990death. The music on Come Rain Or Come Shineshows just how exciting a singer she already wasduring the 1949-53 period.

Scott Yanow - author of nine jazz books including JazzOn Film, Swing, Bebop, Trumpet Kings and Jaz
Disc: 1
1 I Cried For You
2 Black Coffee
3 Bianca
4 You’re Mine, You
5 The Nearness Of You
6 Summertime
7 Dedicated To You
8 You’re All I Need
9 Can’t Get Out Of This Mood
10 It Might As Well Be Spring
11 Mean To Me
12 Come Rain Or Come Shine
13 Nice Work If You Can Get It
14 East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon)
15 My Reverie
16 City Called Heaven
17 Ellen's Gesang III (Ave Maria!), Op. 56, No. 6, D.
18 Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year
19 A Blues Serenade
20 Perdido
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