Blossom Dearie: The Hits

Dearie offered hip delivery, perfect intonation and crystal-clear diction and Miles Davis thought her the only white woman who had soul


With her hip delivery, perfect intonation and crystal-clear diction Blossom Dearie became a fixture on the New York supper-club scene.

She created a vocal style that was uniquely hers, prompting Miles Davis to say she was the only white woman who had soul. They had first met in the late 40s when she was part of the inner circle to be found at Gil Evans’s Manhattan apartment along with John Carisi, Dave Lambert, Gerry Mulligan and John Lewis. She was singing with Woody Herman’s Blue Flames at the time and her first recordings – Deedle and In The Merry Land Of Bop – were arranged by Mulligan in 1948.

Of far more significance was her contribution to King Pleasure’s Moody’s Mood For Love in 1952 where she sang the bridge. Downbeat selected it as the record of the year in 1953. She spent the next few years in France, forming the Blue Stars vocal group. They enjoyed a hit with Lullaby Of Birdland, arranged by Michel LeGrand.

Returning to America in 1956, she began recording under her own name and as near as I can tell the selections on this LP come from six albums – Blossom Dearie, Give Him The Ooh-La-La, Once Upon A Summertime, Sings Comden & Green, My Gentleman Friend and Soubrette Sings Broadway Hit Songs. The sleeve-note does not supply this essential information.

Her unique approach to Manhattan and Tea For Two are particularly notable. Both taken at super-slow tempos, they became something of a bench-mark for other standards, especially Surrey With The Fringe (not heard here, but often requested by Miles Davis when they worked opposite each other at clubs like the Village Vanguard). Her intimate reading of Someone To Watch and Once Upon A Summertime are particularly memorable. There are very few solos here but there is some fine flute on Rhode Island (Paul Horn) and Boum (Bobby Jaspar).

Deed I Do; Tout Doucement; Rhode Island Is Famous For You; Now At Last; Boum; Dance Only With Me; Tea For Two; Someone To Watch Over Me; Plus Je T’Embrasse; Manhattan; Try Your Wings; Chez Moi; Lover Man; Between The Devil And The Deep Blue See; Once Upon A Summertime; Let Me Love You; Give Him The Ooh-La-La; L’Etang (55.13)
Dearie (v, p) with, collectively: Paul Horn, Bobby Jaspar (f); Herb Ellis, Kenny Burrell (elg); Ray Brown (b); Jo Jones, Ed Thigpen (d). New York and Los Angeles, 1956-1960.
New Continent 101031 LP