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RIP---BLOSSOM DEARIE---RIP

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pulled from stevehoffman

BLOSSOM DEARIE

April 29, 1926 - February 2009

New York: Feb. 7, 2009: Legendary songwriter/singer Blossom Dearie died peacefully in her Greenwich Village home following a lengthy illness. She was 84 years old. Her longtime manager/representat ive Donald Schaffer said she died of natural causes.

Ms. Dearie was always known for her girlish voice and writing urbane songs about love and humor and collaborations with the likes of Cy Coleman and Johnny Mercer. Her last professional engagement was at Danny's Skylight Room (now closed) on Restaurant Row where she performed regularly for seven years through 2006.

Born Marguerite Blossom Dearie in East Durham, New York on April 29, 1926, and after studying classical music, began her career in earnest as a teen when she switched from classical piano to jazz. She moved to New York City after graduating high school to pursue a serious music career. Initially, she began singing with groups such as The Blue Flames with The Woody Herman Orchestra and another group called the The Blue Reys (with Alvino Rey's Band) before embarking on a solo career.

In 1952, she moved to Paris where she shared an apartment with rising jazz singer Annie Ross. Soon, she formed a vocal group called The Blue Stars. In 1954, the group had a hit with a French language version of "Lullaby of Birdland." In time, the group would become The Swingle Sisters. While living in Paris, she met her future husband, a Belgian flutist and saxophonist named Bobby Jaspar. On her first solo album, released in France, she played piano but did not sing. Her most famous song of that period was titled, "The Riviera," co-written and composed with Cy Coleman and Joseph McCarthy in 1956.

Returning to New York in the late '50's, she recorded six albums on the Verve label through the early sixties. Most were recorded using a trio or quartet. "Today" talk show host Dave Garroway was an early fan and featured her on the program several times. Her fan base was rabid and growing by then. In 1962, she recorded a song for a radio show for Hires Root Beer. Its popularity was such that it led to the LP, "Blossom Dearie Sings Rootin' Songs." In 1964, she recorded her best known album for Capitol Records, "May I Come In?" which was recorded with a full orchestra. It was during this time that Ms. Dearie started performing in supper clubs in New York where she began honing her distinctive singing style. In 1966, she made an appearance at Ronnie Scott's night club in London and quickly became a popular attraction there. She also gained notoriety for frequent appearances with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook on television. Also while in London, she went on to record four albums on the Fontana label.

In 1974, she established her own record label, Daffodil Records. This allowed her complete artistic, recording and distribution control over her growing cache of material. Through the years, she also appeared on many television programs most notably the children's series called "Schoolhouse Rock." Here, many of her pieces were co-written with Bob Dorough. Her child-like voice can be heard on "Mother Necessity," "Figure Eight" and "Unpack Your Adjectives." Her distinctive voice can also be heard on soundtracks of several films including, "Kissing Jessica Stein," "My Life," "Without Me," "The Squid and the Whale" and "The Adventures of Felix." She also recorded with several musicians including Bob Dorough and Lyle Lovett.

In 2007, Australian singer Kylie Minogue said that Blossom Dearie was one of her strongest influences.

Her musical sensibilities were always rooted in jazz as well as popular song, but her voice and style were uniquely hers ("chic, sleek and squeaky-clean, a voice in a million" said Leonard Feather in the Los Angeles Times). She often toured in Europe, Australia and across the globe performing her light-hearted, fanciful and funny songs for sophisticated audiences. Her very special repertoire ranged from Gershwin, Porter, Rodgers and Hart and Johnny Mercer favorites to comic gems by John Wallowitch and Dave Frishberg and many romantic ballads she composed herself to lyrics by Jack Segal.

Early in her New York Career she recorded six albums for Norman Granz's Verve. The following four have been re-released: "Blossom Dearie," "Once Upon A Summertime," Give Him The Ooh-La-La," and "Sings Comden and Green," and "Verve Jazz Masters 51: Blossom Dearie."

Since 2002, "Soubrette Sings Broadway Hit Songs," and "My Gentleman Friend." have been available on her Daffodil Records. Rex Reed called her "one of New York's treasures," in the New York Observer, while Rogers Whittaker of The New Yorker asserted that her performances range "from the meticulous to the sublime." And Blossom always said about her songs, "They appeal to all ages."

She is survived by a brother named Barney from New York State. Funeral plans have not been announced."

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RIP dear lady of song!

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I only met her once, when her close friends, Billie and George Wallington introduced us and we went out for dinner, but that a lifetime ago. Loved her recordings and sense of humor. Anyone who really knew her is, surely, suffering a great loss.

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That's very sad to hear. Once Upon a Summertime is one of my favourite vocal albums ("Tea for Two" and "Manhattan" especially).

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I loved her version of Surrey With The Fringe On Top. RIP.

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R.I.P.

I always liked her singing and piano playing - wish I had more of her albums ...

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R.I.P.

I always liked her singing and piano playing - wish I had more of her albums ...

Why wish? Buy some.

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Blossom Dearie, Bob Dorough and Dave Frishberg are the coolest rat pack ever, or the second coolest ever, depending on your ranking system.

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I confess to not knowing she was still around.

RIP. Clearly she gave a lot to her fans.

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The Be Bop Betty Boop! RIP. She was once of my favorites.

Once Upon a Summertime was one of my favorites as well. As I recall, the first times I heard her on the radio, the DJ had in rotation two songs, I'm Following You and Peel Me a Grape. This was about '75 or '76.

I read an interview with Gerry Mulligan some time ago which said that Blossom was one of the gang during the Birth of the Cool sessions.

I first heard of her from the liner notes to a Bobby Jaspar album mentioning that they were married. She had quite a career for someone that most people have never heard of.

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I confess to not knowing she was still around.

RIP. Clearly she gave a lot to her fans.

Feel the same way. RIP

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Her first album on Verve, still one of my favorites, was in heavy rotation here all last week. One thing about Dearie that really strikes me, but that wasn't apparent for a long time — listen to the way she comps under her own singing. It's almost as if, at times, singer and pianist are two different people. Very hard not to lay down a chord when you emphasize certain words. Subtle mastery.

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listen to the way she comps under her own singing. It's almost as if, at times, singer and pianist are two different people. Very hard not to lay down a chord when you emphasize certain words. Subtle mastery.

Yes, I've had that same thought.

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Interesting post ( from the Songbirds site) about Dearie from composer-pianist Richard Rodney-Bennett. Speculations about why she didn't marry Johnny Mandel are welcome. Songbirds poster Bill Reed commented, "God greatly gifted Johnny Mandel in more ways than one," but I'm still curious about the actual wording of Dearie's "quiet but definite complaint."

Rodney-Bennett:

I learned many of the best songs I know from Blossom. In the early 60s she used

to come to stay at my house in Islington, London. She would always have a bunch

of new Cy Coleman songs, that he had given her, unpublished. I'm talking about

'I Live My Love', 'For Once In My Life' (not the famous one), 'Little What-If'.

"My How The Time Goes By" and so on. She was an exceptionally demanding

house-guest (which of course thrilled me, since I idolised her.) She would march

into my work-room, saying, with no introduction:

"I'm hungry"

Or "I'm cold."

Or "I'm thirsty".

And this had to be put right immediately. Mike Renzi does the ultimate Blossom

speaking voice; often my phone would ring, and this imperious little voice would

say "I'm horny".

I was very much influenced by her piano playing, notably her beautiful harmonic

sense and her economical, swinging style. Johnny Mandel told me that he met her

when she first "came down from the mountains", and as he puts it, she had it

all, right from the beginning. They were romantically involved, and there is a

very funny story, told by John Wallowitch, about her reply when he asked her why

she didn't marry Johnny. I can't possibly quote her reply (David would be

shocked and might throw me off the list), but it was uttered in her usual tone

of quiet but definite complaint.

I shall miss her very much.

Richard

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RIP, very sad news. This one on Fontana I've always liked. A gem:

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Edited by sidewinder

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Very sad, I love her!

Just played her Ronnie Scott's album (ReDial) again last week!

Larry, thanks for posting that great recollection here!

Edit: I think I first heard her when I got the album "Give Him the Ooh-La-La" - the title song of that album is still among my very favourites! How she presents those great nonsens-ical lyrics - the definition of "hip" I guess!

Edited by king ubu

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Whenever I've had a give a singer a birthday present I'd select one of her CDs. I don't choose to listen to singers but I like her.

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Sad news indeed. Just this past Saturday eve, we had dinner for my mother (visiting from NYC) at my home, while listening to Blossom tracks from a number of her early Verve recordings. Great fun, my mother of course asking me to make her a "tape". RIP indeed.

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I loved her version of Surrey With The Fringe On Top. RIP.

Only one word for this: sublime.

Up over and out.

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Very sad indeed. She was unique in voice and chose great material for yourself---suitable to a T. She played well for herself, as did Carmen MacRae, Sarah Vaughan, Shirley Horn and others. (They all loved Nat Cole, maybe that's where it came from inspirationally, and why they each developed into great individualists themselves).

She sounded like a little girl to me when she sang, who wouldn't take life but so seriously. Then there was a vixenish side, as is evidenced by an LP title: "May I Come In?" (probably not her idea, but still.....)

Rest well, Blossom Dearie. You were as great and unique as your name.

Edited by fasstrack

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