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Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Verve

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Gifted with a strong, beautiful voice and very precise phrasing, Dinah Washington translated Bessie Smith's irrepressible spirit and flair even better than Billie Holiday, Smith's most famous devotee. For her tribute album, Washington avoided Smith's best-known songs ("'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do," "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," "Baby Won't You Please Come Home"). Instead, she wisely concentrated on the more defiant standards from "The Empress of the Blues," including "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair," "Jailhouse Blues," and "You've Been a Good Ole Wagon." Washington sounds simply glorious, focused on alternating Smith's phrasing to emphasize her own gospel roots. The accompaniment, by Eddie Chamblee and His Orchestra, emphasizes the vaudeville and Dixieland sound of early-century blues, heavy on the slide trombone, growling trumpet, and skeletal, rickety percussion. Reissued several times (occasionally under the title The Bessie Smith Songbook), Dinah Washington Sings Bessie Smith charts a perfect balance between tribute and genuine artistic statement. A Verve master edition reissue added alternate takes of "Trombone Butter" and "Careless Love," plus three songs taken from a Newport performance later in 1958. © John Bush /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Verve Reissues

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Any self-respecting jazz musician would leap at the chance to record an afterhours session with Dinah Washington. One of the finest musician's singers, Washington demanded respect from her band and paid in return by giving her fellow players plenty of room for solos, on record or in concert. Her Dinah Jams LP from 1954 isn't just one of the finest jazz-meets-vocals dates, it's one of the best jam sessions ever released. One year earlier, she began recording the songs heard on After Hours With Miss D, a date sparked (as the original liner notes explained) by her enjoyment of the time after a standard recording date, those late hours when she could sing what she wanted, stretch out and treasure her notes while her musicians relaxed the rhythm. (The record also helped feed the appetite of many record-buyers, who would only after the fact hear tales of unmissable sessions at neglected clubs.) Listeners expecting a record of narcoleptic torch songs, however, may well be shocked by the dynamic range of this date, comprising ebullient stormers as well as slow blues. (Just because the band relaxes the rhythm certainly doesn't mean they have to slow it down.) The results of three sessions recorded one year apart, After Hours With Miss D featured a hand-picked band -- including Clark Terry on trumpet and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis or Paul Quinichette on tenor, plus Washington's rock-solid rhythm section of bassist Keter Betts, drummer Ed Thigpen, and usually pianist Junior Mance (who made his debut with Dinah on the first of these dates). The first two selections are the best, the opener "Blue Skies" a studied introduction for all the principals (each of them heard in extended form on the eight-minute track), and the second a runaway train with Clark Terry's hyper-inflated trumpet as the conductor and the rest of the band carried along for the ride. Organist Jackie Davis leads the group into traditional afterhours territory, setting into a bluesy groove for "Am I Blue?" and "Pennies From Heaven." Washington meanwhile is at her interpretive best, whether tormented ("Love for Sale") or reflective ("A Foggy Day") or tranquil ("Pennies From Heaven"). Everyone gets to solo, as it should be, and the controlled environment makes this session a tighter display of finesse than the live-in-the-studio, completely frenetic Dinah Jams LP. © John Bush /TiVo
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Jazz - Released March 31, 1997 | Parlophone UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Prior to her 1959 hit "What a Difference a Day Makes," nearly every Dinah Washington recording (no matter what the style) was of interest to jazz listeners. However, after her unexpected success on the pop charts, most of Washington's sessions for Mercury and Roulette during the last four years of her life were quite commercial, with string arrangements better suited to country singers and Washington nearly parodying herself with exaggerated gestures. Fortunately, this 1963 LP is an exception, a blues-oriented collection that features Washington returning to her roots, backed by a jazz-oriented big band (with occasional strings and background voices). Eddie Chamblee and Illinois Jacquet have some tenor solos, guitarist Billy Butler is heard from, and the trumpet soloist is probably Joe Newman. In general, this is a more successful date than Washington's earlier investigation of Bessie Smith material, since the backup band is more sympathetic and the talented singer is heard in prime form. Dinah Washington clearly had a real feeling for this bluesy material. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1956 | Verve

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Dinah Washington was accompanied by an orchestra organized and conducted by Quincy Jones on this 1957 album, and she was singing to arrangements mostly written by the young bandleader, swing charts of pop standards by the likes of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Duke Ellington. The result had much in common with the swing albums of Frank Sinatra in the same period, especially because Jones' arrangements were heavily influenced by Billy May and Nelson Riddle. Sinatra's records were regarded as "pop, " of course, and Washington's, at least when released on the EmArcy subsidiary of Mercury Records, as "jazz, " but her precise articulation and attention to lyrical meaning left little room for improvisation, and while Jones allowed for brief solos from a band that included Charlie Shavers, Clark Terry, Urbie Green, and Milt Hinton, the jazz categorization was actually arbitrary. Whatever musical genre you assign it to, however, this is an excellent Washington album. [For the 1998 reissue, Verve added seven bonus tracks recorded around the same time and with much the same personnel, though they were intended as singles and thus are inferior contemporary tunes. Often, however, Washington sounds more comfortable and enthusiastic on these pop and R&B songs than she does on the standards.] © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released August 21, 2006 | Saga

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Lone Hill Jazz

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released October 6, 2008 | Fremeaux Heritage

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Jazz - Released February 19, 1959 | Verve Reissues

One of the more notorious albums in the history of vocal music, What a Diff'rence a Day Makes! is the lush session that bumped up Dinah Washington from the "Queen of the Blues" to a middle-of-the-road vocal wondress -- and subsequently disenfranchised quite a few jazz purists. Washington had been praised in the same breath as Holiday and Fitzgerald for more than a decade, but Mercury nevertheless decided to back her with mainstream arrangements (by Belford Hendricks), heavy strings, and wordless vocal choruses similar to the radio hits of the day. Apparently, the mainstream backings didn't faze Washington at all; she proves herself with a voice as individual and evocative as ever. To be honest, the arrangements are quite solid for what they're worth; though it's a bit jarring to hear Washington's voice wrapped in sweet strings, the effect works well more frequently than not. Most of the songs here are familiar standards ("I Remember You," "I Thought About You," "Cry Me a River," "Manhattan," "Time After Time"), but they've been transformed by Washington as though they'd never been sung before. The Top Ten title track is by no means the best song on the album, but its title proved prophetic for Washington's career. Though her vocal style hadn't changed at all, one day she was a respected blues singer; the next, according to most of the jazz cognoscenti, she had become a lowbrow pop singer. Thankfully, the evidence against Washington's "transformation" is provided right here. © John Bush /TiVo
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Lounge - Released March 25, 2016 | Retro Style Records

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Jazz - Released December 22, 2014 | BnF Collection

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Jazz - Released June 19, 1955 | Verve Reissues

Recorded at the start of Dinah Washington's climb to fame, 1954's Dinah Jams was taped live in front of a studio audience in Los Angeles. While Washington is in top form throughout, effortlessly working her powerful, blues-based voice on both ballads and swingers, the cast of star soloists almost steals the show. In addition to drummer Max Roach, trumpeter Clifford Brown, and other members of Brown and Roach's band at the time -- tenor saxophonist Harold Land, pianist Richie Powell, and bassist George Morrow -- trumpeters Maynard Ferguson and Clark Terry, alto saxophonist Herb Geller, and pianist Junior Mance also contribute to the session. Along with extended jams like "Lover Come Back to Me," "You Go to My Head," and "I'll Remember April" -- all including a round of solos -- there are shorter ballad numbers such as "There Is No Greater Love" and "No More," the last of which features excellent muted, obbligato work by Brown. Other solo highlights include Land's fine tenor solo on "Darn That Dream" and Geller's alto statement on the disc's standout Washington vocal, "Crazy." And even though she's in the midst of these stellar soloists, Washington expertly works her supple voice throughout to remain the star attraction, even matching the insane, high-note solo blasts trumpeter Ferguson expectedly delivers. A fine disc. Newcomers, though, should start with more accessible and more vocal-centered Washington titles like The Swingin' Miss D or The Fats Waller Songbook, both of which feature top arrangements by Quincy Jones. © Stephen Cook /TiVo
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Jazz - Released December 11, 2020 | RevOla

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Jazz - Released October 1, 1957 | Verve Reissues

The 1957 LP Dinah Washington Sings Fats Waller appropriately brings together Waller's vivacious songs and Washington's demonstrative vocal talents. The jazz diva effortlessly handles Waller classics like "Keeping out of Mischief Now," "Just Squeeze Me," and "Ain't Mibehavin'," while turning in particularly emotive renditions of "'Tain't Noboby's Biz-Ness If I Do" (actually a Clarence Williams tune), and "Jitterbug Waltz" (this last cut featuring Washington's keen and signature blend of blues vocal power and streamlined diction). Adding nice variety to the already strong set, Washington's husband at the time, saxophonist Eddie Chamblee, joins the singer for playful duets on "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Everybody Loves My Baby" (ironically, the love sentiments of both songs were not to stick, as the couple called it quits after just a year of marriage). In addition to "Everybody Loves My Baby" and "'Tain't Noboby's Biz-Ness If I Do," Washington covers other songs associated with Waller, but not penned by him, including "Christopher Columbus" and the highlight of the set, "Somebody's Rocking My Dreamboat." Topped off with solidly swinging charts by Ernie Wilkins and fine backing by an all-star band, the date registers as one of Dinah Washington's best and most enjoyable records. [Reissued in the '90s by Verve as The Fats Waller Songbook.] © Stephen Cook /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 4, 1997 | Verve Reissues

Abbey Lincoln compiled The Ultimate Dinah Washington, a 16-track selection of Washington's best-known songs that offers an excellent introduction to her Verve recordings. Although purists and collectors will have little use for this set, it suits the purposes of neophytes and curious listeners quite well. Among the highlights are "What a Diff'rence a Day Made," "Backwater Blues," "Cry Me a River," "I Wanna Be Loved," "Cold, Cold Heart," "Harbor Lights," "You Don't Know What Love Is," "I Won't Cry Anymore," "Unforgettable," and "The Bitter Earth." © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1962 | Verve Reissues

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Jazz - Released May 18, 1987 | Verve Reissues

Not quite as fine as Sarah Vaughan's Compact Jazz disc, this Verve roundup still nicely frames Dinah Washington's stay at the label with a fetching array of her best cuts from the '50s and early '60s. Taking in some of Washington's best-known pop songs ("What a Difference a Day Makes"), the disc touches on her excellent Fats Waller ("Keepin' out of Mischief Now") and Bessie Smith ("Backwater Blues") songbooks, while also including something from a fiery live date with Clifford Brown ("I've Got You Under My Skin"). And this is not to forget a handful of finely gauged readings of such perennials as "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Easy Living," and "I Could Write a Book." Topped off with fine support by a bevy of top players, Compact Jazz: Dinah Washington makes for the ideal introductory disc. © Stephen Cook /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | Verve Reissues

Of the seven three-CD sets in Mercury's Complete series of Dinah Washington recordings, this is the most jazz-oriented one. The versatile singer participates in a very memorable jam session with an all-star group (featuring Clifford Brown, Maynard Ferguson, and Clark Terry on trumpets), meets up with Terry and tenor saxophonist Eddie Lockjaw Davis on another spontaneous date (highlighted by up-tempo romps on "Bye Bye Blues" and "Blue Skies"), and has several classic collaborations with the warm Lester Young-ish tenor of Paul Quinichette. There are a few commercial sides with studio orchestras that are included (since they took place during the same period) but those are in the great minority on this essential volume. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | Verve Reissues

Up until 1959, Dinah Washington was able to excel in every musical setting that she found herself. A strong jazz/blues vocalist who had many R&B hits, Washington always sounded confident and soulful even when backed by studio orchestras. However after her February 19, 1959 recording of "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes" became a major hit and she gained fame, Washington stuck to safely commercial pop music. Even when she was singing superior songs during the 1959-1963 period, she was always backed by large orchestras outfitted with extremely commercial charts better suited to country-pop stars. The sixth in Mercury's series of three-CD sets starts with the February 19 session and covers 21 months in Washington's career. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 18, 1990 | Verve Reissues

The seventh and final volume in Mercury's Complete series of Dinah Washington's recordings has impeccable packaging and largely inferior music, at least from the jazz standpoint. After recording a surprising hit version of "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes" in 1959, the singer stuck exclusively to middle-of-the-road pop music with large string orchestras on her recordings. This three-CD set (which contains Washington's final 67 recordings for Mercury plus a recently discovered alternate take from 1947) is often difficult to sit through for it totally lacks surprises, suspense or spontaneity. For completists only, but get the first five volumes. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 1, 1991 | Mercury Records

Mercury has given the great singer Dinah Washington the complete treatment with seven three-CD sets that contain all of her recordings during the 1946-1961 period, practically her entire career. Vol. 5 is the final volume to be highly recommended, since it has her final jazz recordings. On many of these performances she is backed by orchestras led by Quincy Jones, Ernie Wilkins (including a tribute to Fats Waller), or Eddie Chamblee in arrangements that often leave room for short statements from some of the sidemen; one of the albums with Chamblee has a full set of songs associated with Bessie Smith. Vol. 5 (which contains only a few commercial sides) concludes with her strong performance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. © Scott Yanow /TiVo