Blossom Dearie’s special appeal lies in a sweet and seductive girlish voice that yields unique interpretations of popular tunes. When she innocently suggests on the opener of her Live in London CD to “Go Where the Grass is Greener,” it's a casual invitation to have some fun. Economical small combo arrangements that feature her original piano stylings, combined with near-perfect vocal phrasing and coloration, garnered her a respectable following during the 1950s and '60s.
This release contains two complete sets from a 1966 date at Ronnie Scott’s London club. All the expected standards, “The Shadow of Your Smile,” “On Broadway,” “Satin Doll,” and her best known erotic admonition, “Peel Me a Grape,” are each in turn introduced by Ms. Dearie. When she coquettishly delivers the Dave Frishberg lyric “...show me you love me, kid glove me” she expects, and no doubt gets, strict obedience from her listeners. The sixteen selections include no less than four songs referencing NYC or London. And although the sound is not state-of the-art, there is a very intimate feel to the recording.
Ann Dyer When I Close My Eyes Sunnyside Records 2003
If Blossom Dearie intrigues with her faux naiveté, Ann Dyer enraptures with her deep lush voice that makes no innocent pretense on When I Close My Eyes. Her phrasing is trance-like and mesmerizing over stripped down arrangements that feature John Shifflett on bass and Jason Lewis on tap drums and percussion. Less is more here, as few instrumental solos allow the power of Dyer’s voice to create a tension that makes your toes curl.
There is an eerie erotica to many of these cuts, such as “Mermaid,” where the listener is invited into the hot steamy water; or her version of the Emily Dickinson poem, “Evening,” with its tanpura accompaniment. Likewise on Bjork’s “Bachelorette,” where she makes believable the line “I’m a fountain of blood / in the shape of a girl... drink me.” On the other hand, the poetry and overall feel of "Felon" harken back to the original Lizard King, Jim Morrison. The closing special underworld mix of “Thirsty” expands the number of musicians to seven and includes the venerable Chico Hamilton on drums and freestyle lyrics. It serves to accentuate the starkness of what came before. Dyer and Dearie are two very different sides of the same coin. Are you bold enough to try them both?
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr. Garner, I love playing the piano... is there any advice you could give me?'' He hesitated, then looked back at me and said, Keep playin' and don't stop!'' That was great advice because at 60 years old, I'm still playin' and haven't stopped!