Sarah Vaughan: Live in Prague 1978
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The program on the Prague concert includes many classic standards which Vaughan had recorded throughout her extended career. Feeling comfortable with her musicians and repertoire, she displays both her monumental vocal range and expressiveness, and a strong chemistry and communication with her audience. With Benny Golson's "I Remember Clifford", Vaughan pays homage to the late Clifford Brown, with whom she had recorded one of her most beautiful albums in 1954. Vaughan was also a competent piano player (she was the second pianist with the Earl Hines orchestra in 1943), and on "Once in a While" she can be heard both playing and singing. The concert ends with a fast and amazing blues featuring Vaughan scatting and trading fours with Reed's horn.
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There were a couple of splendid Public TV items in the later years, but nothing really clued you in to what was so special and irreplaceable about this lady.
The release of this Prague 1978 concert makes up for all of that. This has exactly the feel and the pace of one of her late 1970s concerts, and the video and audio are at times shockingly clear for nearly 30 year old material. Thanks to whoever was responsible for cleaning this concert material up visually and aurally and rereleasing it.
It's still appalling that American video sources for Sassy by comparison are meager, and the sound tinny. They just paid more attention to the presentation of all kinds of music on European television, and weren't afraid to give you more than 5 minute bite sized pieces of a performer.
Right now this concert has no competition as a Best of Sassy DVD, or Most Like Sassy Live compendium.
In spite of that, this is is a very good concert; Sarah Vaughan is a great vocalist and she sings magnificently all the songs of this program.