10-25-2016  3:47 pm      •     
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This excellent DVD release provides visual and audio evidence of the transformation of the finest singer in jazz history from very good to great.
In 1958, Sarah Vaughan was already nearly alone at the top. After being discovered by singer Billy Eckstine after she won an amateur contest at Harlem's Apollo Theater, she joined Eckstine as a member of the Earl Hines band. Her early experience playing organ and singing in her church choir landed her a spot in the band as second pianist and girl singer.
She left with Eckstine to join his band. It wasn't long after that she began winning jazz magazine polls and headlining international festivals.
Her first concert on this release is a 1958 event in Sweden. Here she is pencil thin singing "Sometimes I'm Happy," "Lover Man," "Tenderly," and more. She is backed by pianist Ronnell Bright, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Art Morgan.
Her second concert the same year had the same musicians and Vaughan sang five tunes: "Over the Rainbow," "They All Laughed," "Lover Man," "Cherokee," and "Sometimes I'm Happy."
Then, six years later, again in Sweden, we get to hear and see Sarah at what could have been her peak. She was completely at ease with her audience and her voice seems to have more resonance.
She works with bassist Buster Williams, pianist Kirk Stuart and drummer George Hughes. Some of her songs include "I Feel Pretty," "Misty," "I Got Rhythm," "Maria," and "Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home." This DVD is perfect in every way.

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Two music masters, reed player George Foster and bassist Putter Smith join forces for a wonderful program of duo jazz.
They each carry impressive resumes. Foster's include stints with Cal Tjader, Tohiko Akiyoshi, Charlie Haden and others. Smith worked with Thelonious Monk, Lee Konitz, Alan Broadbent and more.
Because Foster is heard on flute, alto and tenor saxophones, it's his mission to create the difference in sound from track to track. Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks" is beneficiary of Foster's flute. It is a song with a tough bridge but Foster's smoothness takes care of any innate edge.
"Tonggeret" has a Native American feel with Foster on alto. The very next cut delves into a classical mode with "Bach Sicillian," take from JS Bach's "Sonata in E Flat." This duo creates more diversity in its music than could rightfully expect.

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Tenor saxophonist Boots Randolph has performed in just about every known category of popular music; country, rock and roll, jazz, gospel and blues.
Here he is, at age 79 digging into the great American songbook for tunes, like "Billie's Bounce," "I'll Be Seeing You," "Round Midnight,' "Cry Me a River" and others.
Many will remember Randolph for his huge seller "Yakety Sax" in 1963. But he goes beyond the stark commercialism of those days for this recording. His tone is full, rounded and flows without the wheeziness common to senior reed men.

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