Thursday, March 27, 2014

Always Sassy Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan, 1946     William P. Gottlieb Collection, Library of Congress
The American jazz singer, Sarah Vaughan, known as "Sassy" and "The Divine One," performed for almost fifty years. Twenty-four years after her passing popular music and jazz fans still wait for a singer who can approach her amazing voice. I must say that Jane Monheit has done a fine job of blending the Vaughan recipe with her own spices to bring us much of the magic we remember so well. Here is Sassy performing the signature song from late in her career, Send In The Clowns:

Now that is performance in song. It was recorded twenty years before Auto-Tune and other pitch correction and vocal tuning software could turn tone deaf studio metrosexuals and assorted hotties of any sex into so-called stars.  We've come down a long way in what passes for popular music over the past generation. Of course, there are exceptions but for the most part real singing has become subordinate to other aspects of presentation, performance, and spectacle. And once more I ask the question, "Where is jazz, a genre birthed in the United States?"  It is alive in many small markets across the country but it remains a small portfolio in the financiall departments of our corporate music industry. 

So as the Jane Monheits, Diana Kralls and others keep jazz alive let us honor the memory of one of its greatest interpreters, Sarah Vaughan who was born on March 27, 1924.  For another taste of her magic, here she is near the close of her career performing Tenderly, her original signature song:

A three octave vocal range, no Auto-Tune, singular perfection.

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