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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



The Diva Series

VERVE 065-215-2



  1. If I Were A Bell – Hal Money’s Orchestra
  2. You Do Something To Me – Quincey Jones’s Orchestra
  3. What a Difference a Day Makes – Belford Hendrick’s Orchestra
  4. Sometimes I’m Happy – As 1
  5. Caravan – As 2
  6. Teach Me Tonight – As 1
  7. Blue Skies – Clark Terry, Gus Chappell, Rick Henderson, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Junior Mance, Keter Betts, Ed Thigpen.
  8. I’ve Got You Under My Skin – Clifford Brown, Maynard Ferguson, Clark Terry, Herb Geller, Junior Manse, Keter Betts, and Max Roach.
  9. Invitation – Personnel Unknown
  10. Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby? As 2
  11. Nothing Ever Changes My Love For You. – As 1
  12. Bargain Day - As 2
  13. Goodbye - As 2
  14. Perdido - As 2
  15. There’ll Be a Jubilee - As 1
  16. I’ll Close My Eyes - As 2

Dinah Washington has a lot in common with another fine singer Carmen McRae, they were both tough cookies who you didn’t mess with, they were both divas in the true meaning of the word and both played piano. The other thing that they shared, was the misfortune of being around at the same time as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan!

This CD gives an excellent feel for the outstanding talents of Ms Washington, although regarded as a blues singer by some, she was much more than that. This album demonstrates her ability across a wide range of settings from big band to small jazz group and she excels in all of them. There is also some fine jazz solos, listen to the trumpets on Under My Skin.

The opening track, If I Were A Bell gives notice of the excitement to follow. Dinah had everything, perfect diction, perfect intonation, a wonderful jazz feel and the ability to turn every song into something special, listen to her interpretation of Invitation as an example. Even the jokey, Is You Is, is made into something far from ordinary. The Quincey Jones Arrangements helps a lot as well with Milt Hinton’s bass laying down a good line and a fine trombone solo (Quentin Jackson?).

Some of these tracks were no doubt made with a view to the Top 20 of the day, if it were the same today, I would be a ‘Top of the Pops’ man! Bargain Day is new to me, but again Dinah delivers and the song turns into something special again.

Perdido is another swinging Quincey Jones arrangement, beautifully played by his band. There are also short, but interesting solos from muted trumpet and alto. Dinah’s timing on this track is very reminiscent of Ella on ‘The Song Books’. Jubilee has some nice alto from Cannonball Adderley and this track is another real swinger.

The unaccompanied verse on Close My Eyes is a real gem.

Unless you own most of the original albums these tracks come from, this is a must buy CD. Dinah Washington only lived to be 39, which is not long enough; such a talent should have been spared.

Don Mather


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