Saturday, January 22, 2011

Great Jazz Albums (IMO) #17

Dinah Washington, Dinah Jams (1954).  This is a remarkable album by a remarkable singer with a remarkable group of musicians backing her up.  Dinah Washington is in the pantheon of incredible jazz singers, with Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.  She had "a distinctive vocal style," with a "gritty, salty, high-pitched voice, marked by absolute clarity of diction and clipped, bluesy phrasing."  Dinah Jams was recorded in front of a live studio audience and has the feel of a jam session, with the singer and band letting loose.  We have already discussed trumpeter Clifford Brown, who, together with his band at the time (Max Roach on drums, Richie Powell on piano and Harold Land on saxophone) are in fine form here.  Other legendary musicians, such as Clark Terry and Maynard Ferguson, are here too. There are long jams, fabulous solos, and wonderful ballads, and most of all, Dinah Washington, who, as one critic puts it, "though she's in the midst of these stellar soloists, Washington expertly works her supple voice throughout."  This might not be Dinah's most accessible album (for that try, a couple of albums she recorded two years later:  In the Land of Hi-Fi or The Swingin' Miss D, or What A Difference A Day Makes (1959).)  But for a combination of incredible jazz playing and singing, you can't beat this one.  [Related posts:  Really Great Jazz Albums,  #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16]

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