Another one of the classic blues divas takes on the empress, Bessie Smith. This time it's LaVern Baker turn to interpret some classic blues. Released the same years as Dinah Washington's outing as well... and to be honest, while I usually hold Dinah in higher esteem, LaVern wins this battle!
'This is an album that should not have worked. LaVern Baker (a fine R&B singer) was joined by all-stars from mainstream jazz (including trumpeter Buck Clayton, trombonist Vic Dickenson, tenor-saxophonist Paul Quinichette and pianist Nat Pierce) for twelve songs associated with the great '20s blues singer Bessie Smith. Despite the potentially conflicting styles, this project is quite successful and often exciting. The arrangements by Phil Moore, Nat Pierce, and Ernie Wilkins do not attempt to re-create the original recordings; Baker sings in her own style (rather than trying to emulate Bessie Smith), and the hot solos work well with her vocals. '