I wasn’t all that surprised that a goodly number of my faithful readers were also fans of the incomparable Blossom. Such impeccable taste is only to be expected. As I mentioned we have almost all her CDs in our collection but one is absence from the catalogue: the album that served as my introduction to the chantootsy (as Walter Winchell called the genre): My New Celebrity Is You. I believe it was the first recording issued under Ms Dearie’s label Daffodil. And other than in a very expensive Japanese pressing it has been largely unavailable on CD in North America.
Pro Musica Antiqua is the last track and was my favourite on the entire set. It’s a satirical little number by Jonathan Tunick and Steven Vinavar from Julius Monk‘s Ronny Graham in Take Five . Monk presented reviews at Downstairs at the Upstairs in Manhattan and set the standard for intimate revues in 1950-60s New York. Blossom included this little paean to the Early Music Movement in her repertoire over the years. I’ve not been able to find her version of it on YouTube. However Janet Seidel does a damn fine job in the Dearie style on her album Dear Blossom.
Many years ago I owned a two record vinyl set – yes gentle reader there was a time when records were made of vinyl and had a hole in the middle that you put on a turn… but I digress – of the slender-voiced Blossom Dearie called My New Celebrity Is You. She had recorded some quirky numbers, some sentimental numbers, some wistful numbers but all witty, sophisticated and as I was to discover very Blossom stuff. I became a convert to the cult of Blossom and her records and then CDs became, and remain, standard listening in our household.
I say slender-voiced but behind that little girl whisper was a iron clad technique that made every word audible and a jazz piano style that was with the best of the bred. Some of her live albums, recorded at Ronnie Scott’s club in London, show the ability to hold a room of smoking, drinking, and sometimes partying club goers with a whisper that filled the room.
The title song of that first album was one of those “list songs” updated by songwriter Johnny Mercer for Blossom. Of course many of the “celebrity” names are lost in the mists of time to all but us old folks but the backup group is a “celebrity” list unto itself: Toots Thielemans – Harmonica, Jay Berliner – Guitar, Ron Carter – Bass, Grady Tate – Drums, Hubert Laws – Flute, George Devins – Percussion
One of her many albums included one that is often on our changer: Blossom Dearie Sings Comden and Green. The 60 year partner ship of two of the most creative talents in American musical theatre and cinema is beyond my scope to even start writing about. Let’s just say if you enjoyed Singin’ In the Rain, The Band Wagon, Auntie Mame, or Wonderful Town then you know Betty Comden and Adolph Green. If you’ve ever heard The Party’s Over, Just In Time, or, my own favourite, Some Other Time then you know Comden and Green.
On this day in 1858: The first Hallé concert is given in Manchester, England, marking the official founding of The Hallé orchestra as a full-time, professional orchestra.
We sat at lunch on Sunday with a few Italian friends, a couple of jazz vocal albums on random play as we enjoyed our gelato and candied orange peel at meal’s end. Simonetta very casually asked if it was Blossom Dearie singing. I was surprised as the marvelous Miss Dearie is not a singer familiar to most people. The conversation turned to how old she must be etc.
It was not until I happened to read Jeff’s facebook entry on Tuesday that I found out she had died on Saturday evening. I honestly don’t remember how I began to collect her recordings but I had most of the vinyl she put out – and then got duplicates on CD. There’s one song that I’ve never been able to find again called The Pro Musica Antiqua, which featured her at her wittiest and most original.
There was often a satirical undercurrent to that little-girl voice and nowhere is it more apparent than in Dave Frishberg-Bob Dorough’s I’m Hip!
But she also had a wistfulness and there was an ache to her love songs that spoke of a much wounded heart.
Jeff has posted a tribute to her and included a few more songs that show the subtle talent that was Blossom Dearie.
And my good Blog Buddg EG has posted another tribute and an example of what Miss Dearie could do with an Irving Berling tune.
And once again the world has been left a little less rich.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown