Blossom Dearie

My Gentleman Friend

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The most expressive of jazz vocalists, Blossom Dearie's first three records for Verve -- all masterpieces -- displayed an artist with an uncommon ability to transfer a well-worn standard into a new song, usually informed by her light touch with piano and voice as well as her delightful coquette persona. My Gentleman Friend, her final full-length for the label, suffers only in comparison to her previous work; with fewer all-time standards available from her performing repertoire, Dearie was forced to resort to a few French titles and many middle-rank or then-current standards. It doesn't come as a surprise, then, that the song with the most compositional weight -- George and Ira Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me" -- is the highlight. Dearie gracefully tiptoes through the classic, her reading rosy and meditative. Another Gershwin tune, "Little Jazz Bird," leads off the record with Dearie affecting her usual blend of warmth and insouciance. Aside from those two, the rest of the material is Blossom by numbers: simply average, forgettable songs given solid readings. The backing very nearly makes up for the lack of great compositions -- Dearie leads a quartet comprising her piano, Kenny Burrell on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Ed Thigpen on drums.

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