Album Review #18: Sarah Vaughan At Mister Kelly’s by Sarah Vaughan (1958)

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The live album Sarah Vaughan At Mister Kelly’s sadly just left me underwhelmed. I find that the hardest album to write about isn’t the one that you hate, but the one that you simply don’t have strong opinions on. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it either. It had a couple songs that I enjoyed, but for the most part it just didn’t seem to speak to me.

Sarah Vaughan has a great voice. If there’s one thing in particular that I enjoyed, it’s her singing. Her voice just doesn’t seem to have any flaws. She’s mastered the art of singing a completely unwavering, flawless tone. Her backing band is pretty good too; even though they’re only three people, they still manage to create a great mood with just a piano, bass and drums. My favorite track out of the 20 (I’m reviewing the re-release version, which includes the full, unabridged performance) is probably “Willow Weep for Me,” with a good melody, lyrics and piano throughout. In a particularly memorable moment, partway through the song, Vaughan makes a brief mistake and plays it off brilliantly, making the audience laugh a good amount. Some other good tracks include “Alone” and “Poor Butterfly.”

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

So, this album just didn’t work for me. It’s not bad, I just personally didn’t like it very much. Maybe it’s the minimalist backing band that doesn’t really hold up after 70 minutes, or maybe it just has the misfortune of having to follow up Billie Holiday’s Lady in Satin. Either way, it really pains me to say that this album just didn’t do it for me. What did you think? Leave your opinions in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

Favorite Tracks: “Willow Weep for Me,” “Alone,” “Poor Butterfly”

Next Up: Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook by Ella Fitzgerald (1959)

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