Kylie on Blossom – Today on BBC Radio 2

Radio 2 logoAnother BBC Radio 2 show that might be of interest:

Kylie Minogue pays a personal tribute to Blossom Dearie, a “musician’s musician” and a completely unique jazz artist. Dearie was an iconic figure on the cabaret circuit in New York, Paris and London. Kylie met Blossom just before her death and now explores her career with fresh interview material gathered on both sides of the Atlantic.

Born in 1924, jazz singer and pianist Dearie’s fragile voice disguised a determined and independent personality which enabled her to achieve decades of success. She was singled out by Teddy Wilson, one of the great style-setters of jazz piano, as one of his favourites. And she still has a strong cult following, due principally to her unique style and a keen sense of humour that remains relevant in many of her songs.

Kylie explores Blossom’s career through the boppin’ 40s, as she mixed with the likes of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, John Lewis and Miles Davis, as a member of the Blue Flames. We also hear from Michel Legrand who played with her in Paris in the 1950s. The programme then moves through the swinging 60s, when she recorded four albums in the UK, including her first live album recorded at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. During this period she became friends with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, amongst many others.

There’s no doubt that she was a great pianist and singer, but it was her assertive personality, combined with her approach to music, which made her such an inspirational figure for female musicians. She set up her own label, Daffodil Records, setting the trend for many other artists, and refused to perform if the venue didn’t follow her rules, such as ensuring the crowd stopped smoking ten minutes before she arrived on stage.

Blossom continued to perform in New York and London until late into her life, and her last record was the 2003 single It’s All Right to be Afraid, dedicated to the victims and survivors of the September 11 attacks.

Helping Kylie chart Blossom’s life through music are those who knew her best in the jazz and cabaret world. From New York we hear from her friend, the jazz singer Annie Ross, songwriter Dave Frishberg, jazz musician Bob Dorough and music authors Will Friedwald and James Gavin. Closer to home, British jazz star Dame Cleo Laine gives her musical insight and Spike Wells talks about his experiences drumming for Blossom at Ronnie Scott’s.

BBC Radio 2
Thu 22 Dec 2011 22:00
Mon 2 Jan 2012 21:00

I am a huge fan of Blossom Dearie’s music. Her version of Rhode Island Is Famous For You is a favourite song of the DJ at one of my local dances and the silly lyrics always make me smile.

…Pencils
Come from Pencilvania,
Vests from Vest Virginia
And tents from Tentasee.
They know mink
Where they grow mink
In Wyomink.
A camp chair
In New Hampchair,
That’s for me.
And minnows
Come from Minnowsota,
Coats come from Dacoata…

(via LondonJazz)

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