The February 7 passing of the great jazz musician Blossom Dearie at the age of 84 has not received the notice in the blogosphere that she deserves. She was a superlative pianist and singer, despite her famously slight voice, and an accomplished composer, as well. As a longtime believer in the close relationship between intellectual and cultural history, I could probably come up with some excuse for her place on this blog. But the truth is that she mattered to me, this is where I blog, so this is where this post is going.
Her New York Times obituary can be found here.
Here are a few performances, some probably familiar to some readers of this blog.
One of her great early recordings, “I Won’t Dance” from her self-titled 1957 album:
Performing “Surrey With the Fringe on Top” (from Oklahoma!) in the early 1960s:
Performing one of her signature songs, “I’m Hip” in the mid-1960s (surely there’s some intellectual history content here!):
In the 1970s, her friend Bob Dorough wrote some of the songs for Schoolhouse Rock and Blossom Dearie lent her voice to a number of these now-famous cartoons. As a result, most people my age probably know her voice without knowing her name (thus Blossom Dearie can be seen as an important player in the history of education!):