Sunday, February 08, 2009

So Long Blossom, It Was A Great Ride!

Well, it was a cumbersome weekend to begin with, and I did labor today to write a few posts (those will go up tomorrow).

And, just as I was settling in to tag (link) them, a good friend dropped an email on me that stopped me in my tracks;

Blossom Dearie, cabaret singer, dies at 82

Oh man, not fair.

I knew that she had been ill in the past few years, even stopped performing for sometime.

Yet, it still brings about a mother lode of sadness to know that she has passed on.

When I first got into Jazz, for the first few years, it was the instrumentals - Miles, Dexter Gordon, McCoy Tyner, Stan Getz, Coltrane, Duke and Basie, Lester Young, Bill Evans, Weather Report, and a bevy of others - then, I got hip to the vocals.

First Ella, Sarah, Lady Day, Carmen McRae and, next, Blossom Dearie.

Her duet with Bob Dorough hooked me.

Baby It's Cold Outside

Blossom Dearie, cabaret singer, dies at 82

Blossom Dearie, the jazz pixie with a little-girl voice and pageboy haircut who was a fixture in New York and London nightclubs for decades, died on Saturday at her apartment in Greenwich Village. She was 82.


A singer, pianist and songwriter with an independent spirit who zealously guarded her privacy, Ms. Dearie pursued a singular career that blurred the line between jazz and cabaret. An interpretive minimalist with caviar taste in songs and musicians, she was a genre unto herself. Rarely raising her sly, kittenish voice, Ms. Dearie confided song lyrics in a playful style below whose surface layers of insinuation lurked. Her cheery style influenced many younger jazz and cabaret singers, most notably Stacey Kent and the singer and pianist Daryl Sherman.

But just under her fey camouflage lay a needling wit. If you listened closely, you could hear the scathing contempt she brought to one of her signature songs, “I’m Hip,” the Dave Frishberg-Bob Dorough demolition of a namedropping bohemian poseur. Ms. Dearie was for years closely associated with Mr. Frishberg and Mr. Dorough. It was Mr. Frishberg who wrote another of her perennials, “Peel Me a Grape.”

Ms. Dearie didn’t suffer fools gladly and was unafraid to voice her disdain for music she didn’t like; the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber were a particular pet peeve.
And while aging Jazzheads like myself got to know her music, so did a generation of youngsters get hip to her;

Blossom Dearie, Educator

It’s ironic then that many of us may forget that we first heard Blossom Dearie not on vinyl or CD but in the middle of H.R. Pufnstuf after an ad for Count Chocula. Starting with “Figure Eight,” on the original Multiplication Rock (1973), she contributed three installments to what would eventually become Schoolhouse Rock! I think the song she did with Bob Dorough, Jack Sheldon, and Essra Mohawk, “Mother Necessity” (“Mother Necessity, where would we be?”) is up there with “I’m Just a Bill” and “Conjunction Junction” in becoming something like mascots for the series, as instantly recognized and recalled as any three-chord Beatles riff. “Mother Necessity” was so nice a lesson that, as a kid, it never even hit you that were learning something. But my personal favorite was her 1975 “Unpack Your Adjectives”: It turned a letter from camp into an easy-to-remember grammar lesson and made mnemonics as appealing as Fruity Pebbles: “Friends asked us to describe/The people, places, and every last thing./So we unpacked our adjectives.”
Along with all of the above, if anything, Blossom Dearie was truly, incredibly, totally, unbelievably unique.

Blossom Dear on Wikipedia

Blossom Dearie, Vocalist Whose Wispy Voice Caressed Show Music and Standards, Has Died

RIP: Blossom Dearie, 1926-2009

We leave you with her music

Peel Me A Grape
H/T to GirlJukeBox

Blossom Dearie - I'm Hip

Blossom Dearie - I Won't Dance

Blossom Dearie - I Wish You Love

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