Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh Dinah! The Queen of the Blues (and Jukebox)

In my last post I mentioned that Dinah Washington was one of my favorite vocalists. She was much more than just a singer - she played piano and vibe as well. See that post for my recommended books, videos and CDs. This post will be a visual and audio tribute to a great woman whose life tragically ended at a too young 39.

One of my favorite visual performances, and an indication of her ability to do more than sing, is her singing All Of Me at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. This clip is from Jazz on a Summer's Day, Bert Stern's documentary of that event.

It's always a treat watching Max Roach in the drum chair, and a double treat to see Dinah on vibes.

That she could swing is beyond question, and is amply demonstrated in Teach Me Tonight (also featuring Max's drumming):

I personally love this version of Cry Me a River, complete with unedited banter between her and her producer. The woman could do a torch song!

Her rendition of What a Difference a Day Makes is, to me, the definitive version:

These three selections also show the exquisite quality of her voice and the ability to make standards and torch songs her own:

Torch songs were not the only genre in which she excelled. She could hold her own against Bessie Smith when it came to blues, do a credible cover of Hank Williams' Cold, Cold Heart, and cross over into pop and make the charts. These selections show her incredible versatility and ability to sing in any genre:

No survey of Dinah's music would be complete without her rendition of This Bitter Earth, which may be the most beautiful example of her soulful singing:

Finally, this three part documentary will provide you with a glimpse into the life of my favorite female vocalist:

Enjoy the music!

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