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Bebop Spoken There

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12,176 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 1315 of them this year alone and, so far, 18 this month (Dec. 5).

Remembering ...

Roland Kirk died on Dec. 5, 1977.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Preview: “Remembering Blossom Dearie” - Eyemouth

(Press release)
Singer Zoe Francis and guitarist Jim Mullen bring their Remembering Blossom Dearie tribute show to Eyemouth Hippodrome on Wednesday, November 7.
Blossom Dearie, who died in 2009, was an American singer and pianist who gained popularity in Paris and London during the 1950s and 1960s for her singing of songs including Peel Me a Grape and I’m Hip. She was also known for her deadpan, often spontaneous wit.
Ronnie Scott, who booked Dearie into his Soho club many times, often said that if she’d chosen to be a comedienne instead of a musician she would have been a great success.
“I got to see Blossom when I was living in New York,” says Francis, a former dancer and actress who began singing jazz after she went to New York for a holiday and ended up staying for nine years. “She was playing in Danny’s Skylight Room, one of her favourite venues, and she made everyone laugh.”
However, It was Dearie’s singing and her choice of songs that particularly appealed to Francis. 

“I loved Blossom’s phrasing and the way she made songs tell a story,” she says. “A lot of what she did sounds simple on first listening but that’s because she made everything sound effortless. Nowadays, it seems that people are looking for technical acrobatics from singers, but Blossom never over-egged anything and she was always ahead of her time in terms of choosing songs.”
For Francis, Dearie’s song selection was akin to her paving the way for the next generation of the Great American Songbook.
“Audiences apparently used to think that she’d written the songs she sang herself because they hadn’t previously heard what turned out to be classic songs,” she says. “But she just knew a good songwriter when she heard one and she virtually launched the careers of writers like Dave Frishberg, who wrote Peel Me a Grape and others like My Attorney Bernie.”
Francis returned from New York in 2004 and after working as a yoga teacher for a spell, she resumed her singing career in the late noughties. She recorded her first album, Looking for a Boy, when she was living in Bristol, where she met Jim Mullen, whose trio accompanies her at Eyemouth Hippodrome.

“Jim encouraged me to do a whole programme of songs associated with Blossom after I’d decided I wanted to sing a few of her songs,” says Francis. “We’re not trying to copy her – we do The Riviera quite differently to her version – but she’s quite underrated now and we’d like people to appreciate her more.”

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