Saturday, August 25, 2012

#35: Sarah Vaughan – At Mister Kelly’s (1958)

“Ladies and gentleman you’ve probably wondered why we have so many microphones on the bandstand tonight…”

I don’t know why I enjoyed the introduction as much as I did. Maybe it’s because I know that this album wasn’t fooled with in any way – it’s an exact representation of the performance that night. Mistakes and all, Sarah Vaughan and her trio play through 20 tracks of jazz standards and while the music never falls below superb – I lived for the moments between songs when you could hear the interactions with the crowd and the little behind the scenes details.

Willow Weep For Me
I’m surprised I didn’t know this song that well, I’d like to hear more artists rendition of it. Vaughan has the whole package. She’s got a beautiful voice, an incredibly solid band behind her, and clearly the stage presence to hold the audience on each note. However, what made me choose this song was the accident during the piano solo. The piano is playing this quiet but intense solo and then all of a sudden, “BOOM, Boom, boom…” Then you can hear plenty of giggles – someone knocked over a microphone. The listener is in the dark on exactly what had happened until Vaughan confesses on the head section, “I really fouled up this song real well, according to that I’m through, but they’re not – so we’ll just keep singing Willow Weep For Me.”

Just One of Those Things
I don’t hide my admiration for Jamie Cullum well. He’s a current musician who does some of these standards in a jazz/pop setting. Because of his more modern sound – it draws younger listeners (like myself) toward the genre. However, while this track may be 53 years old – it absolutely holds up. The bass walks up and down while the piano pounds out a really impressive comp. Not enough can be said about Vaughan’s trio – they are in the zone for each and every track.

Lucky In Love
I really, really enjoyed this arrangement. The piano really has a swing to it that’s unrivaled by any other track on the album. Also, the band does a great job working together with more rhythmic variation on the header section than on other songs. After the song was complete – I replayed it just to focus on the drums – and it was even better the second time. It’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s one of the best songs on the album.

All in all, it’s a good album. If I had been watching a video of it, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more. For me, though, the middle tracks seemed to run together a little too much – there wasn’t enough contrast between songs to really keep me engaged for the whole 50+ minutes. My only complaint about the album is that Vaughan’s vocals are a tidge too loud – sometimes the levels peak and it’s really unpleasant. Despite this issue, it’s an incredibly well done album – it’s absolutely worth listening to.

Tomorrow's album: Kimbra's Vows.

No comments:

Post a Comment