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Sarah Vaughan: Live at Rosy’s

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Following a lengthy Following a lengthy fallow period, the late 1970s proved a particularly fertile time for Sarah Vaughan. In 1977 she signed with Norman Granz’s Pablo label and began a stellar series of studio albums. In May 1978, not long after the first Pablo release, Vaughan arrived in New Orleans for a week at Rosy’s, owned by 21-year-old Rosalie Wilson. Portions of the gig were captured for a Jazz Alive broadcast. Those recordings, recently uncovered in NPR’s archives, shape this double-disc set.

Vaughan is in exemplary form: loose, imaginative and energized, her late-career tendency toward over-stylization held largely in check. As she settles into her favored and most effective setting, tight with a top-drawer trio-drummer Jimmy Cobb alongside bassist Walter Booker and pianist Carl Schroeder-her relaxed satisfaction shines through. The all-standards set favors balladry, at which she knew no equal, including such signature selections as “The Man I Love,” “Poor Butterfly” and “Send in the Clowns.” But the lighthearted Vaughan is also evident, particularly when a patron mistakes her for Ella and requests “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” She playfully complies, insisting, “But then I’m going to tell you who I am,” before serving up a twistedly girlish rendition.

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