Friday, April 19, 2013


YEAR:  1963
LABEL:  Roulette
TRACK LISTING:  Snowbound, I Hadn't Anyone 'Til You,  What's Good About Goodbye?,  Stella By Starlight,  Look To Your Heart,  Oh You Crazy Moon,  Blah Blah Blah,  I Remember You,  I Fall In Love Too Easily,  Glad To Be Unhappy,  Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most
IMPRESSIONS:  I first heard several of these songs on a packed cd called SARAH VAUGHAN:  THE ROULETTE YEARS (an extremely worthy compilation though probably out of print since I bought it circa 1990).  However, it wasn't until I heard the title track on one of those Christmas jazz compilation cds about a decade ago that I began actively searching for this album.  Naturally, the album was not available on cd and, for the most part, it's still not available . . . although it is.  Basically, if you search for it you'll find it on a (basically also out-of-print) "Two-On-One" cd pairing it with the equally delectable album "THE LONELY HOURS"; quite a natural and perfect pairing.  As the original liner notes for the vinyl LP aptly state:  "The wind blows cold outside, the night is clear and the moonlight plays tricks on the pure, white surface of the deep driven snow.  It's a night for the warmth of a fireplace and the warmth of love.  A night for flickering shadows and dreamy thoughts.  A night that finds you . . . snowbound."  There is very much that kind of feel about this album; look at the wonderful album cover art and you'll know immediately what the album sounds like.  Kicking off with the perfect album opener, the title track "Snowbound" conjures an almost visceral feeling of piling snowdrifts as one peers out a wintery window with the firelight flickering in the background and the cool, blue light cascading in through said windowpane.  You can almost hear that peculiar enveloping sound of a heavy snowfall which affects sounds like a warm blanket.  If that makes any sense.  If  you've ever noticed, there's a stillness which accompanies falling snow and the title track effortlessly conjures that up as one can almost see the snowflakes settling.  That's quite a lot to say about just one song on the album but the rest of the programme is no less evocative.  From the hit song featured in the classic 40's ghost film "THE UNINVITED" ("Stella By Starlight") to the relatively unknown Gershwin brothers tune ("Blah, Blah, Blah") and from Sassy's masterful rendering of the classic "I Remember You" even to the welcome inclusion of a moon song ("Oh, You Crazy Moon"); this is one my favourite Sarah Vaughan albums as well one of the most thematically satisfying.  As the original liner notes continue:  "When you're snowbound, there's not much you can do.  You can feel the warmth of that fireplace, cuddle close to that certain someone and . . . be touched by the voice of Sarah Vaughan."
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Snowbound,  I Hadn't Anyone 'Til You,  Stella By Starlight,  Oh You Crazy Moon,  Blah Blah Blah,  I Remember You,  I Fall In Love Too Easily,  Glad To Be Unhappy,  Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most
BONUS TRACKS:  On the cd I managed to track down, the album is paired with the similar Roulette release "THE LONELY HOURS" which I will no doubt post here one day.
FACT SHEET:  SNOWBOUND is (likely) Sarah Vaughan's 24th album.  It is arranged and conducted by Don Costa.  The album emerged from the Divine One's short but productive few years with the Roulette label.'s John Bush rightly calls the album "an overlooked gem from Sarah Vaughan's Roulette years" and it is indeed puzzling why this album is so difficult to come by and isn't readily available.  The album is generally given high marks and Bush continues with the observation:  "Despite the peaceful atmosphere and strolling tempo, Vaughan hardly treats the material as a cinch for her voice; all of these 11 songs find her searching for different ways to present timeworn standards. The opening title track is one of the warmest, most romantic songs on the LP, Vaughan plumbing the depths of her alto and nearly perfecting her humming vibrato."

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