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Dinah Washington: Live at Birdland 1962

From the late ’50s through her death in 1963, Dinah Washington largely abandoned recording in jazz settings and focused, with considerable commercial success, on Top 40 singles and string-laden ballad albums. However, in nightclub and concert appearances, she continued to work with a jazz trio. Live at Birdland 1962 gives The Queen’s fans a hitherto unprecedented opportunity to hear what she sounded like in person during her final years. These privately recorded airchecks derive from three Washington engagements at Birdland between winter 1961 and fall 1962. On two sets, she’s backed by Joe Zawinul (piano), Jimmy Rouser (bass), and Al Jones (drums) and, on the third, by an unidentified organ-tenor-drums trio and a small vocal group. The repertoire consists of five individual songs and six medleys, including multiple versions of “What a Diff’rence a Day Made”, “I Thought About You,” “This Bitter Earth,” “A Foggy Day,” and “Unforgettable.” As always, Dinah’s assured musicianship and high spirits are apparent, but the CD’s muddy sound, repetitious material and rather perfunctory performances limit its appeal to Washington completists.

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