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Vanessa Rubin Pays Homage to Tadd Dameron, with a Lively Performance on Singers Unlimited

It’s been too many years since Vanessa Rubin came on Singers Unlimited with a new album, and her newest is one of her best.

The Dream Is You: Vanessa Rubin Sings Tadd Dameron celebrates the great composer and arranger of the '40s and '50s. Dameron, like Vanessa herself, was born in Cleveland, and her tribute is heartened by her hometown pride.

Dameron was active mostly in the years when the big bands became combos, when swing became bebop. His ballad “If You Could See Me Now” is one of the most beautiful jazz songs that became a standard. It’s one of the album’s highlights, arranged by Benny Golson. Tadd was a mentor to Benny, and Vanessa’s other arrangers, Jimmy Heath and Frank Foster, also learned from or played with Tadd. “Good Bait” is a swing classic Dameron composed for Count Basie. “On a Misty Night” came from Dameron’s album with John Coltrane, Mating Call.

Vanessa talked about the words written to Dameron’s lyrical melodies. And she sang some of the album’s songs in the WBGO performance studio with a trio: Deanna Witlowski on piano, Kenny Davis on bass, Winard Harper on drums. Here is their performance of “Kitchenette Across the Hall.”

Videography: Isaiah McClain, Anthony Nieves

Audio mix and video edit: Corey Goldberg

Michael Bourne, who died on August 21, 2022, was a presence on the air at WBGO between the end of 1984 and the start of 2022 when he retired from full-time hosting duty. He is the host of the Singers Unlimited Podcast by WBGO Studios. Previously, he hosted the popular Singers Unlimited (1985-2022). He also hosted the equally popular Blues Break for several years. Michael is a senior contributor to Down Beat, with the magazine since 1969. Doctor Bourne earned a PhD in Theatre from Indiana University -- which comes in handy when he's a theatre critic for the WBGO Journal.