My Gentleman Friend
Blossom Dearie’s final album for Verve is a distillation of her talents. Backed by a restrained trio featuring Ray Brown on bass, Ed Thigpen on drums and Kenny Burrell on guitar, My Gentleman Friend places focus squarely on Blossom’s singing. While it is not her best known performance, Gershwin’s “Little Jazz Bird” is an anthem for the singer’s persona: “Just try my recipe / And I'm sure you'll agree / That a little jazz bird / Is the only kind of bird to be.” For a performer who sounded so small, she was actually one of the few artists of that era who exerted full control over her albums. She was a champion of unknown songwriters, especially Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, who contributed “You Fascinate Me So” and “It’s Too Good To Talk About Now” to this set. Blossom’s trademark was the girlish, whimsical, and tightly woven swing she brings to songs like “Boum” and “Chez Moi,” but she can also communicate feeling without any gimmick or pretension, as on “Hello Love.” She sings like a girl, but handles “Someone to Watch Over Me” like a soul with several lifetimes’ worth of experience.