'Dear Blossom' A heartfelt tribute to Blossom Dearie

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3YvedevGio

 

Dear Blossom – the Janet Seidel Trio

A Blossom Dearie theme show is a rare bird indeed, as was the legendary Blossom herself, with her naturally witty and quirky delivery, delicate if eccentric vocal style and truly exquisite piano styling.

Since the release of the CD Dear Blossom some years ago Australia’s Janet Seidel first performed this show to packed houses at Sydney’s Woodfire Cabaret, Canberra’s National Press Club and the Adelaide Festival Theatre, to name a few. 

In the UK in 2009 she was asked to do the show at the Glasgow Recital Hall in Scotland and a season of the show at the famed Pizza on the Park, a beautiful venue which was also the scene of Blossom’s last season in London.

Janet and the trio have spent many months in the UK over the last 3 years.  A highlight of the trip was their sold out concert at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in Soho, where Blossom Dearie first found great fame back in the days of her David Frost interview with John Lennon and her association with pop stars like Georgie Fame. 

Its no exaggeration to say that Janet and trio made a big impression at Ronnies, with their take on the Blossom repertoire including Hey John, Sweet Georgie Fame, I’m Hip, My Attorney Bernie, Bruce, The Pro Musica Antiqua, Ballad of the Shape of things to come and so many more.

While the show is jazzy, funny and always entertaining, it’s obviously also a repertoire close to Janet’s heart as Blossom was her original inspiration as an artist.

Description of 'Dear Blossom' show

Blossom Dearie became the original inspiration for Seidel when she attended her concert in Adelaide in the early seventies. “I saw Blossom perform in Adelaide in my early twenties and I was inspired. Like Blossom, I didn’t have a very big voice yet the audience loved her and she sang and played the piano beautifully.” said Siedel.

 

The very quirky Blossom Dearie is adored by many music fans for her exquisite piano work, dry wit and her timelessly cute, one-of-a-kind voice. She was also much admired by many jazz icons including famously Miles Davis, and developed a repertoire of delicate and funny original tunes both of her own and others such as Dave Frishberg.

 

Janet’s CD, “Dear Blossom” was released in 2004 and featured her selection from Blossom Dearie’s extensive discography. On the CD “We Get Requests” there is Janet’s live version of “My Attorney Bernie” one of the classic numbers associated with Blossom. So it is a natural choice that one of Janet’s shows should be devoted to Blossom.

 

Janet is one of the best jazz singers in this country and the only Australian singer to have made it into the Penguin guide to Jazz 7th edition 2005. Described as: Australia’s first lady of jazz singing.

 

US writer David Nathan from All About Jazz: “With her intimate style, great feel for the lyrics of songs she sings, Seidel is one of those vocalists who is as much a story teller as she is a singer. The way she goes about handling the music comes off as a fortuitous blend of Blossom Dearie and Doris Day with an occasional nod to Julie London, although she is somewhat jazzier than the latter two. Like Diana Krall, she doubles on piano. Seidel has an exquisite, gentle, and agile voice and honours each tune she sings, irrespective of whether it's a classic standard, pop, or novelty song.”

 

Her latest CD Dear Blossom pays tribute to another formidable singer-pianist, the legendary and recently deceased Blossom Dearie whose sharp wit, deft pianism and wry vocals were a defining influence on Janet who says, “Among my earliest jazz record purchases was Blossom Dearie Sings, an album of originals. Whether it was a Rodgers and Hart show tune or one of her poignant or funny tunes it was obvious that her ‘less is more deilivery’ was superb.” After seeing her perform for the first time Janet decided, “That’s what I want to do for the rest of my life”.

 

The American Songbook in London: Janet Seidel [A Tribute to Blossom Dearie]

Reviewed by: Michael Darvell

A Tribute to Blossom Dearie (1924-2009)

Music and/or lyrics by Blossom Dearie, Linda Alpert, Johnny Mercer, Vincent Youmans & Irving Caesar, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Harold Arlen & E. Y. Harburg, Tunik and Vinever, Irving Kahal & Harry Richman, Dave Frishberg & Bob Dorough, John Wallowitch, Murray Grand, Michel Legrand, Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh, and Janet Seidel

  • Janet Seidel – Singer & Pianist
  • David Seidel – Double bass
  • Chuck Morgan – Guitar & Ukulele

Pizza on the Park, Knightsbridge, London

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The American jazz singer, pianist and cabaret performer Blossom Dearie, who died in February 2009, was a true original. 

Janet Seidel is a Sydney-based singer and pianist who has been performing jazz-oriented material and the Great American Songbook since high-school and university days. She was inspired by Blossom Dearie, in particular her record of originals, “Blossom Dearie Sings". Janet’s voice is similar in timbre to that of Blossom. In her cabaret tribute and on her “Dear Blossom” CD she recreates Blossom’s style of delivery without slavishly making it an imitation. It is more an impression of the great and original singer. It is good to have a reminder of the jazz musician’s work and to have somebody else carrying on the tradition.

Seidel is joined on her UK tour by her brother David and Chuck Morgan, both excellent musicians who fit together sympathetically. Seidel demonstrates Blossom’s versatility in her choice of songs, opening with ‘Surrey with the Fringe on Top’ (from “Oklahoma!”) which Blossom made truly her own, as a romantic ballad. ‘Tea for two’ is a song which Janet finds particularly moving even though its words were originally meant to be a dummy lyric, a way of seeing how the melody goes with words against it. As it happens lyricist Irving Caesar did not get around to changing them for Vincent Youmans’s music and thus a classic song was born.

‘I’m shadowing you’ is a song that Blossom wrote with Johnny Mercer which is a satirical slant on the work of J. Edgar Hoover and the CIA. Even in something quite serious Blossom enjoyed herself. Janet also sings Michel Legrand’s ‘Once upon a Summertime’, for which Mercer wrote the English lyrics. ‘My attorney Bernie’ is one that Janet, assuming the mantle of Blossom, does in such a sweet and direct way, that it becomes the epitome of charm. There are laughs in John Wallowitch’s ‘Bruce’, about a confused young man who doesn’t quite know which sex to dress as. You feel that Blossom would not have been judgmental, and Janet conveys the sympathy felt for the subject in an awkward situation.

There’s lots more to savour here such as Blossom’s tributes to John Lennon and Georgie Fame, and Janet reveals just what a spirited yet gentle performer she is. Her song to Blossom gives her album its title. As she says: “my song is a tribute to the gentle voice, meticulous and unique artist who so captivated me back in 1975 when I heard her as support artist for Stephane Grapelli in Adelaide’s Festival Theatre.”

Hopefully Janet Seidel will return to the UK after her current tour. Apart from her Blossom Dearie tribute Janet is also a major jazz artist in her own right.

The album "Dear Blossom" is on the La Brava Music label (LB0064)

Janet Seidel Trio, City Halls Recital Room, Glasgow

The Herald
26 May 2009
Alison Kerr
Star rating: ****

Anyone who considered and rejected the notion of attending the Glasgow debut of
Australian singer-pianist Janet Seidel on Sunday night should really be kicking themselves for missing out on an evening of first-class entertainment.

Seidel, who was accompanied by her regular guitarist Chuck Morgan and her bassist brother David Seidel, immediately won over the crowd at the Recital Room with her sunny disposition and exquisite, crystal clear vocals. The influences may be Blossom Dearie and Peggy Lee, but it was Julie London - albeit with a wider range and more power - whom Seidel's soft and gentle voice instantly brought to mind.

The theme of the evening was the late American singer-pianist Blossom Dearie, and Seidel lived up to her promise of performing Dearie's material - both her original songs and the standards she favoured - without imitating her. Only on the her own tribute song Dear Blossom did she have a go at what she cleverly described as Dearie's "fairy voice" (thankfully, because a little of it goes a long way).

That said, Seidel clearly shares an impish sense of humour with her idol: this was a gig with lots of laughs, thanks to such witty songs as I'm Hip, Peel Me a Grape and, especially, the hilarious Pro Musica Antiqua. Other highlights included lovely versions of It Might As Well Be Spring (partly sung in French), a Mancini medley and Tea for Two.

Seidel is clearly a class act but not so overly polished that she seems to be merely going through the motions. And if the audience's enthusiastic reaction is anything to go by, this first visit to Glasgow certainly won't be her last.

 

Download Janet's tribute song to Blossom Dearie written in 2004

Janet's trio tribute to icon Blossom Dearie, launched in June 2004, has already enjoyed sell out seasons at National Press Club, Canberra; Adelaide Festival Theatre and Woodfire Cabaret in Sydney.

'Someone should send Janet Seidel flowers for her delicate and engaging tribute to a truly eccentric music talent, the ageless Blossom Dearie. She takes a representative sample from her catalogue and sings with a touch of the breathy finesse that characterises a Dearie song. Seidel is a very fine singer in a very cool way with a light touch on the keys.'
- Review from the Adelaide Advertiser

The show can be two 45 minute sets with a 20 minute interval or one 90 minute set.

Blossom Dearie has been an inspiration to Janet since her High School and University days.

Here is an excerpt from an article she wrote for the Melbourne Sun Herald:

Among my earliest jazz record purchases was 'Blossom Dearie sings' an album of originals: delightfully witty songs which seemed like an extension of her intimate style of singing.

She used her harmonic knowledge and piano skills to accompany herself and proceeded to captivate the huge theatre and make each song a work of art. Whether it was a Rodgers and Hart show tune or one of her poignant or funny tunes, or Dave Frishburg's 'My Attorney Bernie' or 'The Pro Musica Antiqua' it was obvious to all that her 'less is more' delivery was superb.

I have seen her since then in concert but never as wonderful as this night. It's a cliché but on seeing her I thought: 'That's just what I want to do for the rest of my life'.

I understood that by using my naturally pure but not overly powerful voice I could communicate my love for subtle and well written songs by the often overlooked method of letting the song sing itself.

Song List:

  • Dear Blossom
  • Surrey with the Fringe on top
  • Down with love
  • Pro Musica Antiqua
  • Moonlight Savin’ Time
  • It might as well be spring
  • Comment Allez-vous?
  • I’m Hip
  • Once upon a summertime
  • Tea for two
  • You Fascinate me so
  • Gentleman Friend
  • Hey John
  • Sweet Georgie Fame
  • Figure Eight
  • I’m shadowing you
  • I like you, You’re nice
  • Peel Me a grape
  • My Attorney Bernie
  • Bruce
  • It’s too good to talk about now