This recording is so remarkable that 2xHD decided to remaster it in the higher DSD and DXD formats. The lady is really amazingly on target with her approach to every tune she had chosen to perform. The reflective mood of this album captures the late-night intimacy of the recording sessions. Although, as Gary Giddens has observed, Shirley can “swing your socks off”, her performances here, protected from the time-is-money anxiety and clinical ambiance of commercial recording studios, and surrounded by devoted friends and inevitably, food, is more introspective and emotionally intense than anything she has recorded to date.
In Grace Paley’s short story, “Wants”, the narrator says of her former and current husbands: “Either has enough character for a whole life, which as it turns out is really not such a long time. You couldn’t exhaust either man’s qualities or get under the rock of his reasons in one short life.” I can’t help thinking of these lines as I struggle with the task of trying to write some words about Shirley Horn, the most complicated human being I’ve ever known.
It would be difficult to find fresh ways to celebrate her music. Discriminating critics, including Whitney Balliett, John S. Wilson, and Leonard Feather (who named Shirley “Best Jazz Singer of 1987” in the Los Angeles Times), have sung her praises, and so have her peers – Miles Davis, Carmen McRae, George Shearing, Ella Fitzgerald, and many others. In a recent interview, singer Carol Sloane said: “Shirley takes total command, and she is sitting at the piano when she does it, which is even wilder. She swings and sings the blues; she sings the beJesus out of the blues… She is the best singer/piano player in the world. And that’s the truth… She has an enormous presence at the piano, and I am very struck with it. It makes me starry-eyed”.
Shirley Horn – Vocals, Piano
Charles Ables – Bass
Steve Williams – Drums
Total time: 00:51:59
Andre Perry, George H. Buck Jr.
René La Flamme, Analog to DSD 256 Transfer
|Original Recording Format|
Recorded at Mapleshade Studio, October 1987
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||January 15, 2021|
The 2xHD hi-res release of Shirley Horn’s Softly… the sheer beauty of her sound swept this mere mortal away.
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