SARAH VAUGHAN Sarah Vaughan (EmArcy)


“Sarah Vaughan” is an album of very vocal jazz in a small group setting, much more pared-down to nightclub essentials than, for example, the lavish orchestrations found in Ella’s songbook series or Frank’s concept albums. It’s very pleasant and authentic, perhaps not-earth shattering and maybe a little too fond of breaking out into great swathes of scatting and soloing for use in, uh, socially relaxing settings. Maybe there’s also rather more of Herbie Mann’s flute-playing here than strictly necessary.


On the other hand, there are some real twinkling gems amongst a repertoire largely drawn from songs of the 1930s and 1940s, which must’ve been slipping into the beginning stages of standardhood at the time of this 1954 recording. “Jim” reads almost like “The Other Woman” viewed from the other woman’s perspective; “September Song” is smooth but still possesses its tart sting of wistful regret. Watch out for the end of the jaunty “It’s Crazy”, though, which, if your stylus is clogged with dust, can sound as if the group have sneaked in a fragment of The Mothers Of Invention’s “Weasels Ripped My Flesh”.


The packaging of Universal’s latest 200 gram vinyl reissue is a tactile delight, as close as practically possible to a remanufacture of a mid-50s original, and doesn’t sound too shabby either.