Moments Like This

Bobby Short

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Moments Like This Review

by William Ruhlmann

Bobby Short's Moments Like This has something in common with the ballad-heavy concept albums of Frank Sinatra in the 1950s. "In selecting the songs represented on this album," he writes in the liner notes, "[producer, arranger, and conductor] Dick Hazard and I decided upon the moody, late-night material saloon singers like myself are apt to explore when the frenetic excitement found during the early hours of an evening out has given way, for most lovers, to the calming promise of what may lie ahead." Referencing his career as a nightclub entertainer, Short suggests that these are the kinds of performances that might be reserved for the looser, winding-down late set instead of the more uptempo early one. But the difference between this collection and, say, a Sinatra album like No One Cares, is that while ballads and minor keys abound, the lyrical content doesn't all point in one direction.. Romance rules, of course, but Short seems to alternate between contentment and despair, between, for example, Cole Porter's "I Am in Love" and the song that follows it here, Irving Berlin's "Say It Isn't So." Hazard employs a full string section to add feeling to the arrangements, and such jazz figures as Harry "Sweets" Edison and Plas Johnson poke their horns in here and there, but the core of the sound is still the rhythm section of Short, bassist Beverly Peer, and drummer Robert Scott. As ever, Short revels in the lyrics, enunciating perfectly and over-singing somewhat, as if he's fighting to be heard over the conversation at the Café Carlyle. That is his established style, by now, and even on these sometimes understated tunes, he employs it to satisfying effect.

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