Pianist, vocalist and composer Blossom Dearie may have been diminutive in stature and voice but certainly never in talent. She began her career in New York in the mid 1940s and then moved to Paris in the early 1950s to form the vocal group The Blue Stars, which eventually morphed into the Swingle Singers. Returning to the US in the 1960s, she began a solo career and gained international recognition through her wry interpretation of unusual song choices as well as her dynamic piano playing. She died in 2009 at the age of 85.
Vocalist Roberta Donnay is celebrating the irrepressible Dearie with a tribute album entitled Blossom-ing! . In this captivating outing, Donnay has chosen 16 songs associated with Dearie, beginning with a Billie Holiday composition, which Dearie adapted, entitled "Roberta's Blues." This swinging chart has a light bluesy frame in which Donnay's soft voice and smart pacing bring the number to life. Dave Frishberg's whimsical composition "Peel Me A Grape" became one of Dearie's signature tunes and Donnay's interpretation captures her fundamental quality . Guitarist Jose Neto's solo adds to the flavour of the song.
There are two compositions that reflect Dearie's time in Paris: "Plus Je T'Embrasse" and her own "A Paris." Both are deftly done in the French language in which Donnay appears to be perfectly comfortable and expressive. Each has a different style and tempo but neither appear to concern Donnay. Among some of the other titles that Donnay has chosen are "Moonlight Savings Time," "Spring In Manhattan" and "You Fascinate Me So."
The final track in this release is "Put On A Happy Face." Following a strong into from bassist Ruth Davies, Donnay swings into a run through of the lyrics with Davies along for the ride. Pianist Mike Greensill is unwavering in his accompaniment as he has been throughout the recording. This is an evocative celebration of a unique interpreter of words and music.
Roberta’s Blues; Peel Me a Grape; Just One of Those Things; Inside a Silent Tear; Plus Je
T’Embrasse; Someone to Watch Over Me; Moonlight Savings Time; A Paris; The Party’s
Over; If I Were a Bell; Spring in Manhattan; Unless It’s You; You Fascinate Me So; I Wish
You Love; It Amazes Me; Put on a Happy Face.
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