While far too idiosyncratic to serve as a proper point of entry into the Blossom Dearie
catalog, this edition of the wonderful Café Après-midi
series is nevertheless the most nuanced and sympathetic overview of the singer's career -- although most retrospectives focus almost solely on Dearie
's piano-trio records for Verve, here compiler Toru Hashimoto
draws largely on the more robust, orchestral sessions from later in her recording career, leading off with no fewer than ten of 12 tracks from her 1969 Fontana masterpiece That's Just the Way I Want to Be
. The 29 performances assembled here illuminate the full breadth of Dearie
's talent -- for a singer with such a distinctively girlish, refined style, she was remarkably soulful as well, deftly navigating the twists and turns of songs like "I Like London in the Rain" as well as bossa nova compositions like the beautiful "Meditation" and "One Note Samba." Because much of the material featured on Blossom Dearie for Café Après-midi
originates from the singer's scarcest LPs, this Japanese release is a steal even at import prices -- the songs are perfectly selected and paced, and the mastering is impeccable.