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 Yannow/AMG