Sarah Vaughan was a pioneering stylist who perhaps more than any other brought the techniques of bebop to vocal jazz. The New Jersey-born singer got her initial break in the band of Earl Hines, whose featured male vocalist was Billy Eckstine. When Eckstine jumped ship, he formed his own big band, enlisting Vaughan and stellar players such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey and Dexter Gordon. She breathed in the new sounds of bebop and, turning solo, became regarded as the finest female jazz singer of her generation. After a series of records for small labels, she signed to Columbia, who groomed her as a star. She became very successful but felt removed from the world of jazz. Joining Mercury in 1953, she ensured they’d allow her to record jazz as well as pop. She signed to Morris Levy’s Roulette label before returning to Mercury from 1963 until 1967. Jazz was becoming less popular by then, and the end of the decade saw her without a contract. She began her comeback with “A Time In My Life” for Mainstream in 1971. Label-owner Bob Shad, who had been Vaughan’s A&R man in the 1950s, knew exactly what she needed, and carefully tailored a selection of recent popular songs that perfectly suited her voice. Aided by excellent arrangements by Ernie Wilkins, she shone on the album, which marked the beginning of her 1970s renaissance.