Mercoledi Musicale

I’m not sure that Blossom was ever quite that glamorous and it may just be a sly wink at the title of her album.

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.

Mercoledi Musicale

Along the Tevere looking towards Ponte di Sant’ Angelo and San Pietro.  The river seems very high but the foliage is glorious and I am homesick.

I was planning to get over to Roma this month but the best planned lays of mice and men oft go astray. A few things have got in the way and I may have to forgo the joy of seeing my friends there for a few more months. For some reason this song from On the Town seemed an appropriate way to express my disappointment.

Eileen Farrell was one of those singers who could truly manage cross-over.  Though she did appear on the stages of several American opera house – including several seasons at the Met – she was better known for her concert appearances.  Her opera repertoire roles from Gluck’s Alceste to Berg’s Wozzeck and in concerts she was known for her wide ranging repertoire – she could spin a fine thread of sound – her breath control was incredible – in Debussy and get down and gutsy with the blues.

The accompanist is, of course, Leonard Bernstein the composer of On the Town.  I only saw him conduct once – the 1964 Falstaff at the old Met and I can’t say I am as enamoured of Bernstein as many of my generation are/were.  Unusually for him, in this video, he allows the spotlight to shine almost exclusively on Farrell.

To Walter, Robert, Linda, Gayle, Diana, Marco, Larry, Vincenzo, Anna, Peter, Joe, Mark, Carol Ann, Craig, Jolka and all my dear friends in Roma:

But let’s be glad for what we’ve had
And what’s to come.
There’s so much more embracing
Still to be done, but time is racing.
Oh, well, we’ll catch up
Some other time.

music by Leonard Bernstein

24 October – 1901: Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

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