Indispensable: Beholding the Face of the Divine
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 10/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As fortunate as I've been in catching and even meeting many of the giants (Coltrane, Ellington, etc.), I have several major regrets: never seeing Bird or Lady Day, and never seeing Hank Mobley or Sarah Vaughan during the late 50's/early '60s. Sarah was a pyrotechnical phenomenon in the '70s and '80s capable of impressing the most demanding listeners from any field of music, but she was truly both "Sassy" and "The Divine One" during the period captured on this video. She sang with an intimate, vibrant glow that lightened the listener's heart, producing the most indelible and timeless emotions, whether on ballads or up-tempo material.
It's surprising to learn that the first concert in the sequence, featuring Sarah in a casual, rather drab dress, actually came after the second concert, in which Sarah's radiant singing seems to match her white, glamorous, feminine attire. The third concert, on the other hand, is almost overly "produced," featuring Sarah in a formal context, a lavish coiffure (wig, I suspect), and taking on ambitious tunes lie Bernstein's "Mariah" to show off her operatic soprano. It also exposes the diva's propensity for perspiring heavily, which I noticed the several times I caught live her after 1970. Since Ella had a similar problem (though somewhat less noticeable), especially after donning a wig, I've got to wonder if that single addition wasn't a strong contributer to becoming "over-heated."
Upon a second viewing of the video, I found that the musical upstaged the visual element (as it should), bringing Sarah Vaughan's supremacy into clearer focus than ever, her only challengers for the top spot coming down to Ella and Billie. No one had so rich a sound (especially before the 1970s), so secure a sense of time and pitch, so "musical" an approach to melody, making up her own melodies with the facility and invention of the very best improvisers (which takes her beyond mere "scatting"). And in this early period, she's not so dependent upon "vocal display," making you conscious of that enormous range. Rather than "come at you" with that formidable instrument, she draws you in, cheering and warming that personal, exquisitely private place or realm of desire that each of us carries within us.
Although this DVD is scarcely any more costly than a CD, most of us don't play videos enough to establish an intimate partnership or deep connection with them. For that reason, I'd recommend that a listener first pick up and listen to one of her inexhaustible albums ("Live at Mr. Kelly's" would be my first choice). Once Sarah has taken up residence in your psyche, you'll necessarily want to witness the source of the ineffable emotion. At that point, the DVD's value will be all the more apparent."
Simply the best!!
R. F. Douglas | Arnhem, Netherlands | 07/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have almost all her Lp's / cd's and now I try to get everything that I can get on DVD. I was excited and thrilled to get this dvd, simply because you cant hardly get anything from Sarah singing during the 50's and 60's on dvd or videotape.
This dvd is my favorite...her voice is phenomenal, her musicality is superb...not to mention her talent.
Lets make it clear folks, she was the best ever!! All the good musicians and singers admit that!
Not any singer nowadays comes close to what Sarah did!
She was a still is my hero!
Buy this DVD, and enjoy her version of Maria, Baubles Bangles and Beads and songs like Lover Man, I feel Pretty, sometimes I'm happy etc.
And for those who never saw Sarah live performing, you HAVE to buy this dvd.
It deserves a million stars!!
What's she on?
Matthew Watters | Vietnam | 04/24/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Up front, I need to say that the Jazz Icons series has done the world a huge service by making these beautiful performances available. This disc opens with a 1958 performance in Sweden, and the visual tableau is as minimalist as Swedish modern furniture, the vocalist and her jazz trio in sharp focus on a barren soundstage, Sarah herself in a simple summer dress. She's strikingly lovely, and the casual strength of her personality has clearly been an influence on at least two generations of female R&B and jazz singers. While her vocals are beautiful, with that trademark range and a stunningly modulated vibrato, the performances suffer from a certain diffidence. Sarah herself is, well, odd, as if she had never seen anyone perform on television before. With her drooping eyelids and eyes darting off to the side, one gets the impression that perhaps she'd been hitting the, um, cough syrup prior to making this particular television appearance. The second set, filmed in Holland, is far stronger, with her rendition of "Lover Man" truly stellar. It'll give you chills. Jump ahead to 1964 for the last set, and Sarah's voice has deepened noticeably. Sarah also just seems like a very strange chick indeed, with a ridiculous wig and a slighty demented, self-congratulatory stage presence. While the music here is simply spectacular--seeing Richard Davis play is a real treat, and you can tell the musicians really digged her--Sarah herself comes off as a rather difficult personality. If you are just getting into these Jazz Icon DVDs, grab the Ella Fitzgerald first. It's more charming by far....."
A 'Must-Have' for Sarah Vaughan Fans!
J | Jersey City, USA | 02/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Very good quality audio and video, for the most part. It's such a treat to see such extended video of Sarah and her trios doing their thing during the earlier part of her career. A must-have for Sarah Vaughan fans."