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Sarah Vaughan – At Mister Kelly’s (1958)

October 9, 2014

[Album 350/1001]Atmisterkellys

Wikipedia (1957) & my book (1958) disagree on the release date: as per usual, tie goes to the book!

I was chatting with my sister & my cousin last weekend about the benefits of having an unrefined palate.

For example, there’s only been the odd glass of red wine I haven’t enjoyed; most of the time, I can’t tell the difference between a $7 or $70 bottle.

I feel that way about a lot of vocal jazz.  There’s the occasional singer I may not appreciate but for the most part, even if I can’t tell if I’m listening to a contender or a pretender, I tend to be a fan.

So take any jazz praise from me with an unsophisticated grain of salt: like most red wines, I liked At Mister Kelly’s!

This concert doesn’t feel like a ‘must-hear’ historic document (like Dylan’s 1966 show) but more like the sound of an artist in her element.

Her voice is never less than appealing & her trio’s understated backing fits neatly throughout.

Two moments in particular made me smile:

1) When the host introduced Ms. Vaughan as “the divine..” – much like Cam from Modern Family, I overuse the term divine.  I can’t help it, I’m a celebrator!

2) When Sarah sang Alone – I didn’t recognize the song at first but was simply ebullient once I did.

The song hails from one of my all time favourite films, A Night At the Opera, released 40 years before the Queen album of the same name.  Vaughan’s take is divi lovely, albeit several octaves lower and with, oh, a tad less vibrato.  Thank you Youtube:


Like many live albums, I may not revisit At Mister Kelly’s all that often (anyone else sometimes feel like they’re listening to someone else’s memories when hearing a live show they didn’t attend?).

But that’s more of an “it’s not you Sarah, it’s me” situation as opposed to any shortcomings in her performance.

From → 1950s

  1. In all honesty I don’t know her at all. Kudos to her for covering my face Heart song though!

  2. Fave not ‘face’ – damnit!!

  3. Bahaha, WP refusing to allow you to edit your comments strikes again!

  4. Well, I like her. Her name alone, complete with proper spelling of Sarah (with the H dammit) demonstrates her fine breeding and taste! lol (a little 1537 boasting there, haha) 😉

    • Proper spelling matters – I had a Multiple choice question the other day on a review quiz “spell your teacher’s name” I think only 5 students got it right!

  5. I guess this album is listed because most of the sides that made Ms Vaughan’s deserved reputation were cut in the 40s and early 50s.
    No objection to a bright autumnal day, but for those who like her voice, I’d recommend picking up a comp of the earlier ‘in her prime’ material.

    • Thanks for the suggestion Bruce – so far this is the extent of my Sarah Vaughan knowledge but I’m interested in hearing more.
      If this is her autumn, her voice held up nicely. I struggled listening to Billie Holiday’s “Lady in Satin” (also on the 1001) – it sounds like she’s in the same boat as Sarah, making most of her music before the ‘album era.’
      In Holiday’s case, her voice was just so frail by 1958, far from easy listening

  6. Sarah Vaughan is a fave of mine, I’m glad you gave this a spin. Yup, the earlier stuff is good too!

  7. jprobichaud permalink

    I like red wine too.

  8. Sarah (the Divine) is a singer I’ve always felt I should like more than I do (and I listen to lots of jazz, including jazz vocalists). But she has chops. And, btw, my Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers says the album came out in ’57.

    • I think my book may be a UK edition – perhaps they go by UK release dates as opposed to North America?

      Your guide sounds like the better authority here!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 357 down, 644 albums and 7 years to go! | 1001albumsin10years
  2. 1950s | 1001albumsin10years

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