Blossom Dearie: Little Jazz Bird 1952-1959

An enjoyable collection of her earliest recordings, made in France and the US


Actually, there’s only one item here from 1952. It’s tucked away as a bonus track at the end of the first disc: a 24-year-old Blossom singing Moody’s Mood For Love in her little-girl voice, with King Pleasure. Is that hip or what? The rest of the music on this triple CD runs from 1955 to 1959.

It begins in Paris with eight tracks and a four-track EP presented as Miss Blossom Dearie et sa musique Jazz-sweet. This turns out to be cocktail-lounge piano and rhythm: standards, chorus-and-a-half each, well played and swinging lightly.

The main body of the collection consists of five albums recorded in the States for Verve. They mark the beginning of Blossom’s recorded career as a pianist-vocalist. Verve’s proprietor, Norman Granz, seems to have confined his contribution to providing her with top-class rhythm sections, adding the occasional heavenly choir and otherwise staying out of the way. These are good, professional albums of the period and Blossom gradually eases into her characteristic style as one succeeds the other.

Since her career up to this point had been mainly in France, leading her vocal group, the Blue Stars, the occasional French song is a charming feature of these early albums. It Might As Well Be Spring appears with lyric in French, too. She sounds slightly tentative at times, although with Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Jo Jones on hand everything moves smoothly enough. From the second album, Give Him The Ooh-La-La, all uncertainty vanishes. Now it’s really noticeable how voice and piano make two halves of the same expression, unlike your average “songs at the piano”. Like Someone In Love is outstanding in this respect.

Aimed though they were at a broad popular market, more than half a century ago, these five albums are full of moments to savour. There’s Blossom’s piano solo on Moonlight Saving Time, never losing sight of the melody but spiced with small, elegant surprises; the phenomenal bass and voice duet with Ray Brown in an uptempo Just One Of Those Things; the curiously effective treatment of Tea For Two as a slowish ballad – and so on. I have a particular soft spot for Some Other Time, on the Comden and Green album – simple but effective and quite touching.

As you may have gathered, this is the ideal format for dipping in, and you’re bound to find many more little gems when you do.

CD1: [Miss Blossom Dearie Et Sa Musique Jazz-sweet] The Continental; The Boy Next Door; They Can’t Take That Away From Me; Moonlight Saving Time; Surrey With A Fringe On Top; April In Paris; Blue Moon; Down In The Depths; [Blossom Dearie Piano] Old Devil Moon; Autumn In New York; Flamingo; There Will Never Be Another You; [Blossom Dearie] Deed I Do; Lover Man; Everything I’ve Got; Comment Allez-Vous?; More Than You Know; Thou Swell; It Might As Well Be Spring; Tout Doucement; You For Me; Now At Last; I Hear Music; Wait Till You See Her; I Won’t Dance; A Fine Spring Morning; [bonus track] Moody’s Mood For Love (76.34)
CD2: [Give Him The Ooh-La-La] Just One Of Those Things; Like Someone In Love; Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea; They Say It’s Spring; Try Your Wings; Bang Goes The Drum; The Riviera; The Middle Of Love; Plus Je T’embrasse; Give Him The Ooh-La-La; Let Me Love You; I Walk A Little Faster; [Once Upon A Summertime] Tea For Two; Surrey With The Fringe On Top; Moonlight Saving Time; It Amazes Me; If I Were A Bell; We’re Together; Teach Me Tonight; Once Upon A Summertime; Down With Love; Manhattan; Doop-De-Doop; Our Love Is Here To Stay (74.00)
CD3: [My Gentleman Friend] Little Jazz Bird; Gentleman Friend; It’s Too Good To Talk About Now; Chez Moi; You Fascinate Me So; You’ve Got Something I Want; Boum; L’étang; Hello Love; Someone To Watch Over Me; [Sings Comden And Green] Lucky To Be Me; Just In Time; Some Other Time; Dance Only With Me; I Like Myself; The Party’s Over; How Will He Know?; It’s Love; Hold Me, Hold Me, Hold Me; Lonely Town. (68.48)

Dearie (v, p) with accompaniments featuring Herb Ellis, Mundell Lowe, Kenny Burrell (g); Ray Brown (b); Jo Jones, Ed Thigpen (d); Bobby Jasper (ts, f). Paris 1955-6, NYC 1952-9.
Frémeaux & Associés FA5780