18. Sarah Vaughan – At Mr Kelly’s

Sarah Vaughan – At Mr Kellys

Sarah Vaughan was always the also-ran when sat alongside Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, and to be honest she’d mostly passed me by. And yet, there’s something about how she handles the crowd on this live album, recorded in Chicago. Her voice is mellow but immensely skilled, and as gentle as it sounds, she exudes confidence throughout. When things go south on “Willow Weep for Me” she jumps into her own teasing lyrics with ease (something that remains a happy highlight of the album). The backing band complement her while making her work the crowd, and what you’re left with is a soulful and serene bebop jazz album that blends into the background but is quite welcome to be part of your day.

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