- Released: October 20, 1992
- Label: Polygram Records
- 1.I Get a Kick Out of You
- 2.Backwater Blues
- 3.My Devotion
- 4.Christopher Columbus
- 5.What a Diff'rence a Day Made
- 6.I've Got You Under My Skin
- 7.I Wanna Be Loved
- 8.Baby (You've Got What It Takes)
- 10.Lover, Come Back to Me
- 11.Fat Daddy
- 12.Blue Gardenia
- 13.Birth of the Blues / I Don't Hurt Any More: Birth Of The Blues / I Don't Hurt Any More
- 14.No More
- 15.Blues Down Home
- 16.This Bitter Earth
- 17.The Cheat
Personnel includes: Dinah Washington, Brook Benton (vocals); Herb Geller, Ernie Wilkins (alto saxophone); Sahib Shihab (alto & baritone saxophones); Jerome Richardson (alto saxophone, flute); Paul Quinichette, Harold Land, Benny Golson, Frank Wess (tenor saxophone); Charles Davis (baritone saxophone); Clark Terry, Ernie Royal, Doc Severinsen, Charlie Shavers, Clifford Brown, Maynard Ferguson (trumpet); Urbie Green, Benny Powell (trombone); Terry Gibbs, Don Elliot (vibraphone); Wynton Kelly, Junior Mance, Richie Powell (piano); Jackie Davis (organ); Freddie Green (guitar); Milt Hinton, Ray Brown (bass); Jimmy Cobb, Max Roach, Charli Persip, Panama Francis, Teddy Stewart (drums).
Recorded between 1950 and 1959. Includes liner notes by Benjamin Franklin V.
Personnel: Dinah Washington (vocals); Brook Benton (vocals); Freddie Green (guitar); Jerome Richardson (flute, alto saxophone); Sahib Shihab (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); Ernie Wilkins, Herb Geller (alto saxophone); Eddie Chamblee, Frank Wess, Harold Land, Harold Ousley, Paul Quinichette, Benny Golson (tenor saxophone); Cecil Payne, Charles Davis (baritone saxophone); Clark Terry, Clifford Brown , Reunald Jones, Doc Severinsen, Ernie Royal, Maynard Ferguson, Ray Copeland , Blue Mitchell, Charlie Shavers (trumpet); Richie Powell (trombone, piano); Terry Gibbs (trombone, vibraphone); Sonny Russo, Rod Levitt, Jimmy Cleveland, Julian Priester, Melba Liston, Urbie Green, Benny Powell (trombone); Jack Wilson , Junior Mance, Wynton Kelly (piano); Jackie Davis (organ); Don Elliott (vibraphone); Jimmy Cobb , Max Roach, Panama Francis, Teddy Stewart, Charlie Persip (drums); Candido Camero (bongos).
Audio Remasterer: Gary N. Mayo.
Liner Note Author: Benjamin V. Franklin.
Editor: Peter Pullman.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Cliff Preiss; Matt Brown; Gary N. Mayo.
Arrangers: Ernie Wilkins; Mooney; Hal Mooney; Belford Hendricks.
THE ESSENTIAL DINAH WASHINGTON features a variety of the renowned vocalist's sessions from the 1950s. "Christopher Columbus" and "I Get a Kick Out of You" are two prime examples of Washington's ability to interpret a song like a horn player. She bends and shapes these melodies into intriguing solo-like phrases by blending together legato lines with syncopated rhythms. However, there is no showboating in her renderings; she always maintains the integrity of each tune.
Washington's greatest talent may be her ability to sing the blues, as she does on several tracks here, including "Back Water Blues" and "Blues Down Home," both of which highlight her big, smoky voice. "Baby, You've Got What It Takes," recorded as a duet with singer Brook Benton, is an R&B number that has more in common with Ray Charles and Fats Domino than it does with the standard jazz repertoire. This pop tune, characterized by a strong backbeat and galloping guitar rhythm, foreshadows the direction Washington would take in the early 1960s, just before her untimely death in '63.