Jazz Singers in the 1950s – Sarah Vaughan, Helen Merrill, Dinah Washington and Abbey Lincoln (1954 - 1962)

Russell Perry By

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Many jazz singers of the 1950s continued the tradition of recording with major instrumentalists who were given the space to improvise, feeding off the collaboration. In 1954, EmArCy records matched three of their singers, representing the wide range of their offerings—Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington and Helen Merrill—with jazz ensembles featuring their rising star, trumpeter Clifford Brown. Brown's quintet partner, Max Roach anchored several outings that featured his wife, Abbey Lincoln with the all-star ensembles including trumpeter Booker Little, trombonist Julian Priester, pianist Mal Waldron, and reed heroes Coleman Hawkins and Eric Dolphy.


  • Host Intro 0:00
  • Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown Sextet. "Lullaby of Birdland" from The Jazz Singers (Smithsonian) 3:50
  • Host speaks 7:48
  • Sarah Vaughan Quartet. "Prelude to a Kiss" from The Jazz Singers (Smithsonian) 9:15
  • Sarah Vaughan Trio. "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home?" from The Norton Recordings (Norton) 11:58
  • Host speaks 14:32
  • Helen Merrill with Quincy Jones' Orchestra. "Falling in Love With Love" from Helen Merrill (EmArCy) 17:19
  • Helen Merrill with Quincy Jones' Orchestra. "Don't Explain" from Helen Merrill (EmArCy) 21:10
  • Host speaks 26:20
  • Dinah Washington with Clifford Brown— Max Roach Tentet. "You Go to My Head" from Dinah Jams (EmArCy) 27:32
  • Host speaks 38:37
  • Abbey Lincoln Septet. "Afro Blue" from Abbey Is Blue (Riverside) 41:14
  • Host speaks 44:30
  • Max Roach Sextet. "Driva'man" from We Insist!: Freedom Now Suite (Candid) 45:35
  • Abbey Lincoln. "Blue Monk" from Straight Ahead (Candid) 50:49
  • Host Outro 57:23

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