Come a little closer and I will sing my song

By cjohnson | October 21, 2005 7:17 pm

shirley horn I just heard that one of my favourite Jazz pianists and vocalists, Shirley Horn, has died at age 71. I can think of few people who have mastered the mingling of voice and piano -in any musical genre- to quite the level she had. She’s one of the first vocalists (or pianists) I think of reaching for when I want to immerse myself in some musical work that is clear and uncluttered, slow and unhurried. Her phrasing is just incredibly thoughtful. Her clever use of space is up there with Miles Davis’, and indeed he loved her work (he was not a big fan of singers in general – early Sinatra is one of the few other vocalists I can think of that he liked, again for great phrasing) and he encouraged her early in her career.


Here’s a website with a discography.
Two of my later favourites are Softly, and You Won’t Forget Me. Have a look at today’s Washington Post article on her life. You can also find video, audio and a transcript of a PBS Newshour Jim Lehrer 2004 interview with her here.

May she live on through her wonderful music. She can end this post better than I can, from words of the song Here’s To Life that often ring in my head:

No complaints and no regrets; I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets…

Here’s to life — here’s to love — here’s to you.

-cvj

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Arts, Music
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  • Athena

    Clifford, thank you for the posting. What a year it has been for me in the passing of well-loved musicians.
    Interesting coincidence that you should say her words from Here’s To Life often ring in your head, because hear the same song in my head whenever her name is mentioned. I attribute this association to owning that album by the same title (it’s really wonderful — Wynton Marsalis plays trumpet on it too). Also enjoy her album, “I Love You, Paris.” Hers is a voice that always gives me those tingly goosebumps. Need a commemorative listen tonight…

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Athena: You and me both (as they say)….. Shirley Horn for the rest of the evening. Those words ring in my head a lot. I love that song….and the way she sings it!

    And you’re right, what a year it has been for that.

    Cheers,

    -cvj

  • Moshe

    Clifford, yours was such a nice description of some of my favorite Miles Davis music, made me listen to the “in a silent way” sessions. I should also try her of course…

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Wow! I love those… I was listening to them a lot recently. Fantastic!

    Cheers,

    -cvj

  • Grimmstail

    Thanks for this posting. I have been a fan of hers for years without knowing it. I had a mix with Here’s to Life on it many years ago but subsequently lost. That was the only song on the CD that I cared about and I did not know the artist (or even the right song name.) I had long since given up on finding out who it was, but then as I read through to the end of your post I could hear those lyrics playing in my head as I read those words. Thank you.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Grimmstail: You just made my day… no… (almost) my week! (Best thing this week was this, but then reading your comment is the next best…)

    Thanks!

    -cvj

  • david

    …i’m sitting here listening to shirley, tears streaming down my face… saw her last at the library of congress…took my 71 year old mother, and my ten year old son… shirley was amazing, and we have lost a true artist…here’s to life, here’s to love, and here’s to you!

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    david… listening to her right now. Regret never having got to see her perform. You’re a lucky guy to have the memory. I’m sure you’ll cherish it.

    Cheers,

    -cvj

  • http://www.j-notes.com James

    Clifford, great post! I cannot remember how I found Shirley’s Softly album but as I played it over the weekend, I fell in love with it all over again. It is definitely an underrated album in her great musical legacy.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    James – The Shirley Horn stuff on your site is excellent! Wow!

    -cvj

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