Tangents vol. 30 — Sarah Vaughan
Artist Biography by Scott Yanow
Possessor of one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century, Sarah Vaughan ranked with Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday in the very top echelon of female jazz singers. She often gave the impression that with her wide range, perfectly controlled vibrato, and wide expressive abilities, she could do anything she wanted with her voice. Although not all of her many recordings are essential (giveVaughan a weak song and she might strangle it to death), Sarah Vaughan’s legacy as a performer and a recording artist will be very difficult to match in the future.
Vaughan sang in church as a child and had extensive piano lessons from 1931–39; she developed into a capable keyboardist. After she won an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater, she was hired for the Earl Hines big band as a singer and second vocalist. Unfortunately, the musicians’ recording strike kept her off record during this period (1943–44). When lifelong friend Billy Eckstine broke away to form his own orchestra, Vaughan joined him, making her recording debut. She loved being with Eckstine’s orchestra, where she became influenced by a couple of his sidemen, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, both of whom had also been with Hines during her stint. Vaughan was one of the first singers to fully incorporate bop phrasing in her singing, and to have the vocal chops to pull it off on the level of a Parkerand Gillespie.
Other than a few months with John Kirby from 1945–46, Sarah Vaughan spent the remainder of her career as a solo star. Although she looked a bit awkward in 1945 (her first husband George Treadwellwould greatly assist her with her appearance), there was no denying her incredible voice. She made several early sessions for Continental: a December 31, 1944 date highlighted by her vocal version of “A Night in Tunisia,” which was called “Interlude,” and a May 25, 1945 session for that label that hadGillespie and Parker as sidemen. However, it was her 1946–48 selections for Musicraft (which included “If You Could See Me Now,” “Tenderly” and “It’s Magic”) that found her rapidly gaining maturity and adding bop-oriented phrasing to popular songs. Signed to Columbia where she recorded during 1949–53, “Sassy” continued to build on her popularity. Although some of those sessions were quite commercial, eight classic selections cut with Jimmy Jones’ band during May 18–19, 1950 (an octet including Miles Davis) showed that she could sing jazz with the best.
During the 1950s, Vaughan recorded middle-of-the-road pop material with orchestras for Mercury, and jazz dates (includingSarah Vaughan, a memorable collaboration with Clifford Brown) for the label’s subsidiary, EmArcy. Later record label associations included Roulette (1960–64), back with Mercury (1963–67), and after a surprising four years off records, Mainstream (1971–74). Through the years, Vaughan’s voice deepened a bit, but never lost its power, flexibility or range. She was a masterful scat singer and was able to out-swing nearly everyone (except for Ella). Vaughan was with Norman Granz’s Pablo label from 1977–82, and only during her last few years did her recording career falter a bit, with only two forgettable efforts after 1982. However, up until near the end, Vaughan remained a world traveler, singing and partying into all hours of the night with her miraculous voice staying in prime form. The majority of her recordings are currently available, including complete sets of the Mercury/Emarcy years, and Sarah Vaughan is as famous today as she was during her most active years.
1972 Trouble Man
Hayes’ 1968 solo debut, Presenting Isaac Hayes, had been a poor seller for the record label Stax Records, and Hayes was about to return to his behind-the-scenes role as a producer and songwriter, when the label suddenly lost its entire back catalog after splitting with Atlantic Records in May 1968.
Stax executive Al Bell decided to release an almost-instant back catalog of 27 albums and 30 singles at once, and ordered all of Stax’s artists to record new material, encouraging some of Stax’s prominent creative staff, including Hayes and guitarist Steve Cropper, to record solo albums.
After feeling burned by the retail and creative flop of his first album, Hayes told Bell that he would not record a follow-up or any other album unless he was granted complete creative control. Since Bell had encouraged Hayes to record Presenting… in the first place, he readily agreed.
Much of the final production was done as part of the package of products brought to Detroit by producer Don Davisto expedite the production process. The strings and horns were arranged by Detroit arranger, Johnny Allen. The producers were looking for a sweeping orchestral sound that would enhance the rock solid rhythm tracks. The project strings and horns were recorded at United Sound Studios by engineer Ed Wolfrum with vocals and final mix at Tera Shirma by engineer Russ Terrana. The pre-delay reverberation technique, recorded in part by Terry Manning on the tracking session, had been used at Artie Fields productions in Detroit in late 1950s, and at Columbia Records; it was also used by Wolfrum and others for numerous productions and commercials previous and after the release of this project including the Marvin Gaye What’s Going On project, with orchestration also recorded at United. Russ Terrana went on to the engineering staff of Motown Records and was responsible for the recording and mixing of many hits on that label.
Hot Buttered Soul
Smith & Mighty are a trip hop group from Bristol, consisting of Rob Smith and Ray Mighty. Their first releases, in the late 1980s, were breakbeat covers of “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “Walk On By”. They went on to produce “Wishing on a Star” for Fresh Four and Massive Attack’s first single, “Any Love”.
Artist Biography by Jason Ankeny
One of the most innovative and influential groups of their generation, Massive Attack’s hypnotic sound — a darkly sensual and cinematic fusion of hip-hop rhythms, soulful melodies, dub grooves, and choice samples — informed decades worth of acclaimed dance and rock artists including Portishead, Beth Orton, Radiohead, TV on the Radio, and Tricky, a Massive Attack alumnus.
Their history dates back to 1983 and the formation of the Wild Bunch, one of the earliest and most successful sound system/DJ collectives to arrive on the U.K. music scene. Renowned for their seamless integration of a wide range of musical styles, from punk to reggae to R&B, the group’s parties quickly became can’t-miss events for the Bristol club crowd, and at the peak of their popularity they drew crowds so enormous that the local live music scene essentially ground to a halt.
When the Wild Bunch folded during the mid-’80s, two of its members — Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall — teamed with local graffiti artist 3D (born Robert del Naja) to form Massive Attack in 1987. Another Wild Bunch alum, Nellee Hooper, split his time between the new group and his other project, Soul II Soul. The group’s first single, “Daydreaming,” appeared in 1990, featuring the sultry vocals of singer Shara Nelson and raps by Tricky, another one-time Wild Bunch collaborator.
1995 Tricky solo debut
Glory Box by Portishead also sampled this in 1995 too
returning back to Isaac Hayes:
Stax Recording Artists (maybe end with this):