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Dyer and Dearie: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Elliott Simon By

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Blossom Dearie
Live in London
Harkit Records
2003

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?

For more information, visit Ann Dyer and Blossom Dearie on the web.


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