Dinah Washington: Four Classic Albums


In all that she sang, Dinah Washington echoed the sacred music she knew as a child as well as the contrasting earthiness of the blues. Even when drawing from the Great American Songbook or singing the popular songs of the day, those founding elements gleamed through.

Gathered from four Mercury/Emarcy LPs (plus a Mercury 45), almost all of the songs here are classics from the popular canon. Washington’s rich, powerful and emotion-packed singing could make even poor songs sound good; these are good songs and through her interpretations often become magical.

Among her accompanists are some of the leading jazzmen of the day and solo spots abound. These include trumpeter Clark Terry on I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart and This Can’t Be Love, trombonist Jimmy Cleveland on I’ll Close My Eyes and Somebody Loves Me, alto saxophonist Anthony Ortega on Perdido, and tenor saxophonist Paul Quinichette on Pennies From Heaven.

The rhythm sections are excellent, that on For Those In Love being her working trio of the time. Credit is also due to the arrangements, some dreamed up on the spot by the instrumentalists in the studio, others more formally prepared by Ernie Wilkins and Quincy Jones for The Swingin’ Miss “D”, on which Jones also leads the accompanying 17-piece big band.

Versatile and imaginative, Washington was a major figure among jazz singers of the day and her exceptional qualities have helped her retain her place among the top handful. Musically skilled, shortly after the last of the recordings heard here, she appeared memorably in Jazz On A Summer’s Day. Filmed at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, she not only sings superbly, she also takes a happy swing at playing vibraphone.

Older readers will be aware of Miss D and might have some if not all of the four original albums. Nevertheless, this is a good way to have them all in one place. Those who are newcomers to her art have a real treat in store. This is outstanding singing by a masterly performer and is a joy from start to finish. The only gloomy note comes from knowing that just a few years later, in 1963, Dinah Washington died at the age of 39.

CD1: [After Hours With Miss D] (1) Blue Skies; Bye Bye Blues; Am I Blue; Our Love Is Here To Stay; A Foggy Day; I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart; Pennies From Heaven; Love For Sale; [For Those In Love] (2) I Get A Kick Out Of You; Blue Gardenia; Easy Living; You Don’t Know What Love Is; This Can’t Be Love; My Old Flame; I Could Write A Book; Make The Man I Love (81.05)
CD2: [Dinah Jams] (3) Lover Come Back To Me; Alone Together; Summertime; Come Rain Or Come Shine; No More; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; There Is No Greater Love; You Go To My Head; [The Swingin’ Miss “D”] (4) They Didn’t Believe Me; You’re Crying; Makin’ Whoopee; Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye; But Not For Me; Caravan; Perdido; Never Let Me Go; Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby; I’ll Close My Eyes; Somebody Loves Me; (bonus tracks) (5) You Let My Love Grow Cold; (6) I Know (77.31)
Washington (v) with:
(1) Clark Terry (t); Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis (ts); Junior Mance (p) and others. NYC, 15 June 1954.
(2) Terry (t); Jimmy Cleveland (tb); Paul Quinichette (ts); Wynton Kelly (p); Quincy Jones (arr) and others. NYC, 15-17 March 1955.
(3) Terry, Clifford Brown (t); Richie Powell (p); Max Jones (d) and others. LA, 14 August 1954.
(4) Quincy Jones ork. inc. Terry, Charlie Shavers (t); Don Elliott (t, vib, xyl, bgo); Cleveland, Quentin Jackson (tb); Jerome Richardson, Lucky Thompson (ts); Jones, Ernie Wilkins (arr) and others. NYC, 4-6 December 1956.
(5) poss. as (4). NYC, 21 November 1956.
(6) poss. as (4). NYC, 25 June 1956.
Avid Jazz AMSC 1367