Sarah Vaughan-The Divine One. The illustrious career of "Sass" is chronicled in this one hour video featuring interviews with The Divine One herself, family members and professional acquaintances. The interviews offering the more personal, poignant and perceptive perspectives full of professional praise, come from long time accompanying pianist George Gaffney, Billy Eckstine and Joe Williams. Other revealing insights are offered by drummer Roy Haynes and daughter Paris Vaughan.
There are film and video tape excerpts of performances from every decade of her career. The producers and researchers are to be commended for their acquisition of footage of Sarah from the late 40's and early 50's, considering the media focus during those times was otherwise placed. The juxtaposition of interviews offer a sober, cogent journal of this unparalleled vocal talent and her career. We learn that Sarah, although a tremendously talented artist, had insecurities and disappointments relating to her professional accomplishments.
Any lover of her music will be slightly disappointed more time was not spent on extended clips of her performances. What we are shown however, allows the viewer to observe the maturation of a phenomenal voice that is all at once, heartwarming and compelling. Earlier cuts like, "Cherokee," "Over The Rainbow" and "You're Not The Kind," give an ample display of Sarah's musicianship, unique vocal stylings and fluidity. The fabled two and a half octave vocal range is heard in the all too brief opening excerpt of "A Foggy Day In London Town," "Send In The Clowns" and "Once In A While" [Sarah accompanies herself here on piano and more adequately demonstrates her keyboard ability.]
The major bonus to this production is the loving remastering of the musical tracks. The voice, piano, bass and drums are intelligently mixed which allows the music to stand on its own. Even if your VCR is not connected to your stereo set-up, the music still sounds great.
For the record, my favorite female vocalists in order, are, Sarah, Betty Carter and Billie Holliday [although Diana Krall is making inroads!]. Sarah Vaughan-The Divine One, offers a penetrating look at a talent on the genius level that, unfortunately like Billie, Betty and Ella, are lost to us forever. Billy Eckstine spoke for this reviewer when he said, "We all have our favorites [female singers], and she was mine,...but if she wasn't your favorite, I want to know who was."