Sara Voughan & Quincy Jones
Original Session produced by Quincy Jones
1-7: Sarah Vaughan (vo) acc. by Orchestra Conducted
by Quincy Jones. Rec. Paris, July 7, 1958
8-11: Sarah Vaughan (vo) acc. by Orchestra Conducted
by Quincy Jones. Rec. Paris, July 12, 1958
12-23 Sarah Vaughan (vo) acc. by string orchestra
featuring the Sevend Saaby Choir.
Robert Farnon (arr, cond) Quincy Jones (Idr)
Rec. Copernhagen, October 12, 1963
A compilation of two albums recorded in Europe under the direction of Quincy Jones, these sessions catch Sarah Vaughan at her magnificent best. There may be claims of overdoing it or garishness. But her set of pipes and her willingness to use them dramatically, and sometimes coyly, to bring out the best of everything she sings brushes aside such criticisms as unjustified. Classic standard or novelty tune, she had full command of the vocal art. The 1958 session took place in Paris with Jones doing the arrangements and leading a 55-piece orchestra. To match up this large aggregation would be daunting for most singers. But with Vaughan's powerful operatic voice, it's no problem at all. Although the notes don't identify personnel, Zoot Sims was present backing Vaughan and soloing on such cuts as "Misty." Also present was the rhythm section of Ronnell Bright on piano, Kenny Clarke on drums, and Richard Davis and Pierre Michelot sharing bass. This set was originally issued under the title of Vaughan and Violins. The other session took place in Copenhagen in 1963 and was issued with a similar alliterative title, Vaughan and Voices. Jones was again in charge, but Robert Farnon conducted and arranged, which meant there would be no upbeat material. Farnon never met a string section he didn't love. But in no way does this circumstance impede Vaughan. An audacious full-voiced treatment of "It Could Happen to You" not only makes one forget most other versions, but reveals how little the Sevend Saaby Danish Choir is needed here. Conversely, the way Vaughan rides their voices at the outset of "Days of Wine and Roses" pays their way. This compilation is vintage Sarah Vaughan, which means this is a dazzling exploration of the possibilities of the human voice as a vocal instrument.
All Music Guide
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Quincy Jones Remembers Sarah Vaughan
I started listening to Sassy when I was about thirteen, all those records on Musicraft. I finally got a chance to come face to face with her when I was in New York with Lionel Hampton's band. This was 1951. I was eighteen. I went to see her at the Cpaitol Theatre and every place she played, Birdland, the Apollo, wherever. I was a big fan. I used to watch the stage at the Capitol Theatre rise up with the band. They'd give Sassy this bigger-than-life stance. When she'd hit they'd say "The Divine One! Miss Sarah Vaughan!" It was goose bumps evey night.
Sassy came out of the spawning ground of the bebop movement, Billy Eckstine's band. They'd both come from the Earl Hines Band. B had Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Gene Ammons, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, everybody. He told me how sweet she was and how she was always hanging out with the musicians, She was influenced more by instrumentalists, as most singers were in those days. She thought more about melody than she did about words. Sassy was just like a musician, just like one of the guys.
She asked me to do an album (Vaughan and Violins) in 1958. I'd just left Stockholm and was getting ready to move to France. She called me and I couldn't believe it when I heard her voice on the phone. I was thrilled that she even knew who I was. She knew my work for Dinah Washington and other people. I was doing producing then but we didn't know what that word "producing" meant. We got paid as arrangers. She said "I just heard a song of yours. It's a big hit." It was "The Midnight Sun Will Never Set" which I'd written for a band in Sweden. She said "I'd love to sing it when we record together in Paris. Could you see if you could get English lyrics to it?" I think this was also the first recording of "Misty" as a vocal.
We had a 55-piece orchestra at Eddie Barclay's company. Kenny Clarke was like the house drummer then. Zoot Sims was the only soloist. He was working in Europe and came on the date. It was perfect casting.
I arranged and conducted. It was just like writing for an alto sax or some other instrument. Sassy had much range. She could do intervals or leaps, almost pianistic leaps, major 7ths and 10'ths and 9ths. She could hear anything. Sassy was a piano player, a consummate musician. I've seen her working with a band that couldn't play her music. She was keeping tempo with her foot, singing the bass notes, calling out the chord changes, and singing the song. This woman was unbelievable.
You have to remember, there was no "let's punch that line in" or "let's fix that" in those days. Technically we didn't have the facility then. You had to get it right in one take. There were no mixes, no overdubbing the vocal. That echo effect at the end of "The Thrill Is Gone" was all we had. What you heard was what you got. We were friends from then on. I went back to the U.S. and became A & R man and finally a vice president of Mercury. I did a lot of albums with Sassy, all kinds of albums, Henry Mancini songs, one with Frank Foster and her, in Copenhagen at the Tivoli.
We recorded with Robert Farnon (Vaughan and Voices) in 1963. He's the idol of anybody who's serious about writing for strings, the absolute best who ever did it. I got him a contract with Mercury and tried to time it so he could do an album with Sassy, and he was happy to. He told us about this incredible choir of people in Copenhagen who were really civilians, the Sevend Saaby Choir. They were sixteen singers. I couldn't believe it when I heard what came out of them. They had this incredible pitch like Double Six kind of bars.
I've always enjoyed that process of casting and matching sounds that feel organically natural together. We had some great songs, "My Coloring Book" and Mancini's "Days of Wine and Roses." Nat Cole had done "Funny." She loved to deal with difficult melodies.
We worked off and on, all kinds of things together, from movies to personal appearances. She sang the soundtrack of Cactus Flower for me. She sang Handel for Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, Saassy could've been a classical singer. We recorded with Basie's band. Things came up and she'd come in and sing. We have some songs in the can with her and James Ingram, and a song Michael Jackson wrote for her, "September" (on Q's album Back on the Block) was the last thing she ever recorded, so it really haunts me when I hear it.
Sassy was like my baby sister. She shared with me some of the best years of her life. I have so many memories, a lot we couldn't talk about in print. She was my guru for hanging out for five days and nights without sleep. She really gave me my post-graduate degree in that. Some of the best times were when she'd come to the house and cook chili for me. She left a real big hole in my life.
We were working with her up until the day she died. George Duke and I were doing a Brazilian album with her. They said she loved the songs so much she was buried with the tapes and lead sheets. It was like the hope of that album kept her alive three more months, and that's what we tried to accomplish, really. We never went into the studio. We'd just let her run through the songs. We kept her inspiration up. On the last day she called me, she said "Don't worry about it, Q. I won't let you down." She sent me a Seiko watch with and inscription for my birthday. It has the date, 3-14-90, and just says "Love, Sassy."
I'm happy that these albums are coming out. That's one great thing about the music. You really don't go away. Clifford Brown, Cannonball, Basie, so many close friends, and now Sassy, as far as I'm concerned, they're still here.
- as told to Michael Bourne