The Lost Sessions From The Netherlands
New York, 28 September 1998: Blossom Dearie was rehearsing for a concert. Renaud Machart and I were the sole witnesses to the infinite care she took for every word and note of all of her songs. After so many years, her voice was intact – a wisp of a voice, slightly tangy – with more control than ever. Among her many assets was the subtle way she had the music carry her syllables, conveying the impression of being a “singer of texts” rather than the great musician she truly was. As an exceptional pianist with a delicate touch and strong sense of swing, her harmonic language was splendid, both well informed and clear. Dearie is a vocalist with the voice of a child and the expressivity and sensuality of an accomplished woman; she moves us profoundly.
Blossom Margrete Dearie was born on 28 April 1924 in New York State, lucky enough to grow up in a home where there was a piano. Her natural ear for music meant that at a tender age she was already picking out Debussy’s L’Après-Midi d’un Faune. When she was twenty, singer Dave Lambert introduced her to the music world of the Big Apple. Taking a leaf out of the book of artists like Erroll Garner, she strove to blend the world of jazz with that of musical comedy. Dearie began making stage appearances in 1946 and continued until 2006. She died on 7 February 2009.
Tony Bennett, 1972
Collaborating with a diverse range of celebrities including Gil Evans, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Bob Dorough, Michel Legrand and John Lennon, Dearie switched between concerts and cabarets, retaining her blend of naivety, tenderness and lightness, although she could be harsh with uncouth listeners.
There were many highlights to her musical career: the concerts she gave in Amsterdam between 1968 and 1989 feature prominently among them and this LP is a faithful rendition. Dearie performed masterfully in all the instrumental formations, from big bands to solo performances, and sang repertoires of every kind, from film music, with “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”, to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”, including a masterpiece whose music she composed, “Winchester in Apple Blossom Time”, with Marilyn Monroe-style boo-be-doops – two superb versions of which can be enjoyed here, not to mention other compositions of hers: “Bye Bye Country Boy”, “Sweet Georgie Fame” and “Bring All Your Love Along”, whose first recording, made in Laren, 1982, is featured here. Blossom bows out gracefully but Tony Bennett must have the last word. Fond of Frank and Ella as he was, he said in 1972, “I don’t think we hear enough of singers like Dick Haymes [and] Blossom Dearie.”