Mary Don't You Weep

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Saturday I took a stack of Sarah Vaughan live concerts to play at work. Jazz singers are often at their best in live performances. They don't have to worry about producers commercial concerns. I hadn't listened to her in months. I'd almost forgotten the effect her range, control and improvisation work on my spine. Particularly her performances in Japan. Arguably her greatest work. A pair of CDs I'd sorely miss.

People sometimes play a game, listing the ten records they'd take to a desert island. I could never manage such a short list. But I did come up with the ten artists whose entire corpus I'd take to a desert island. In no particular order:

Sarah Vaughan
Duke Ellington
Louis Armstrong
Ella Fitzgerald
Hank Williams
Bob Wills
James Brown
Al Bowlly
Boswell Sisters
Fats Waller
Swan Silvertones

Yeah, it is eleven. I'd need one in my pants.

I came up with seven instantly. Then I had to rummage through my dim recollection of what all I own. With the exceptions of the Sisters and the Silvertones all of these folks have a largish oeuvre. If I hadn't taken into the amount of enjoyable music the list would've been impossible.

Even so I left out many favorites like Marc Almond, Jack Teagarden, Anita O'Day, Prince, George Clinton, Faron Young, Brian Transeau, Pet Shop Boys, Sam Cooke, Four Seasons -- well, you get the idea.

I've pretty much said all this before:

Vaughan and Fitzgerald are my favorite jazz singers.

Armstrong, Wills and Waller are inexhaustible sources of good cheer.

Ellington deserves every laudation he's ever received.

Brown and Williams are sui generis sources of amazing music.

Connee and her Sisters are my nomination for greatest vocal harmony group of all time.

If only for a few moments of melisma in their V-J recording of Mary Don't You Weep the Silvertones are the group I'd choose out of black gospel, one of the most joyous sources of music.

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