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Sarah Vaughan: The Complete Roulette Sarah Vaughan Studio Sessions

Not even the heaviest of hitters can maintain a perfect batting average. When a ball player hits a slump, it’s usually shrugged off as a temporary hiccup. When, however, a jazz singer makes what’s perceived as a creative misstep, there’s endless, and invariably excessive, gnashing of critical teeth.

Such was the case in 1958 when, at the tail end of her first spin with Mercury, Sarah Vaughan committed the seemingly heinous crime of scoring a massive crossover hit with the infectious “Broken-Hearted Melody.” Naysayers descended like ravenous vultures, branding the once-divine one a sellout who was, shamefully, more interested in the commercial remuneration of the hit parade than the karmic rewards of cloistered jazz purism. Vaughan shrugged, secure in her own abilities, and trotted over to the fledgling Roulette label, then best known for Buddy Knox’s brief string of rockabilly hits and for its alleged mob ties. Never one for long-term commitments, Vaughan stuck with Roulette for four years before hiking back to Mercury in 1964.

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