Friday, February 13, 2009

Dearie departed

Sad to hear of the death of Blossom Dearie, the pianist and singer whose unique voice and gentle bass and drums accompaniment instantly evoke the smoky world of fifties jazz.
There is a wonderfully unforced quality to her style; her recordings are precise, compact, unshowy. Neither is there anything gratuitous in her performance: her clear, sweet voice is distinctive and unusual but entirely without mannerism and affectation; she never props up a song with over-performance. This is an especially interesting effect when she deadpans comic numbers like My Attorney Bernie or Peel Me a Grape, or eccentricities like her self-penned Blossom's Blues ("My name is Blossom, I was raised in a lion's den"). But this same spareness and simplicity makes real heart-breakers of It Might As Well Be Spring and Loverman.
Dig out her classic, eponymous Verve album (the one that kicks off with an even better version of 'Deed I Do than Mitchell & Petrillo's in Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla) and bring it all back.