Call yourself a jazz singer? Aspire to this and if you get half way there you are well on your way.
Sarah Vaughan and her trio At Mister Kelly's (EmArcy) is still a revelation. I have heard this album many times over the years and cherish it. But it is still a jaw dropper and listening again today it is as if for the first time. Why? Well you can still imagine yourself there given how atmospheric and real and unclinical it is. The songs enter your very pores.
The album dates from August 1957. ''Sassy'' aka ''the Divine'' Sarah Vaughan, still a potent influence on such singers today as the still scandalously too-underknown Deelee Dubé, as recorded live with lyric sheets at Mister Kelly’s jazz club in Chicago.
Redolent of the intimacy of jazz complete with a range of marvellous songs that would flatter any singer even today, an amazing voice, one of the few to impress the bebop generation who in the main generally did not call much for jazz vocals, and incredible piano accompaniment from Jimmy Jones, with the great future Out To Lunch and Astral Weeks bassist Richard Davis and bebop great Roy Haynes on drums to hand.
The songs are:
September in the Rain (Al Dubin, Harry Warren)
Willow Weep for Me (Ann Ronell)
Just One of Those Things (Cole Porter)
Be Anything (But Be Mine) (Irving Gordon)
Thou Swell (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers)
Stairway to the Stars (Matty Malneck, Mitchell Parish, Frank Signorelli)
Honeysuckle Rose (Andy Razaf, Fats Waller)
Just a Gigolo (Julius Brammer, Irving Caesar, Leonello Casucci)
How High the Moon (Nancy Hamilton, Morgan Lewis)
Dream (Johnny Mercer)
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself a Letter) (Fred E. Ahlert, Joe Young)
It's Got to Be Love (Rodgers and Hart)
Alone (Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed)
If This Isn't Love (Yip Harburg, Burton Lane)
Embraceable You (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
Lucky in Love (Lew Brown, Buddy DeSylva, Ray Henderson)
Dancing in the Dark (Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz)
Poor Butterfly (John Golden, Raymond Hubbell)
Sometimes I'm Happy (Irving Caesar, Vincent Youmans)
I Cover the Waterfront (Johnny Green, Edward Heyman)
Make listening time! Reflect on the paucity of truly great jazz singers today while you are at. Ponder too on whether a Mister Kelly's in terms of a comparable congenial jazz spot properly capable of hosting in terms of the spirit of the place such a sound exists anywhere. Perhaps you'll have to journey to the Keystone Korner in Baltimore in search of that Holy Grail if what I'm hearing on the grapevine is true.