Zoe Francis

Remembering Blossom Dearie

Zoe Francis Records

Glasgow-born guitarist Jim Mullen is one of those musicians who only has to play one phrase – one note even – to be instantly recognisable. And after a difficult time through illness it’s great to hear Mullen back playing in top form in the trio that accompanies his wife, singer Zoe Francis on this tribute to the late jazz singer-pianist Blossom Dearie.

Dearie delighted in clever lyrics and Francis takes up the challenge of conveying You Fascinate Me So, with its “sanctimonious”, “annihilate” and “powderkeg” hurdles, the classic I’m Hip (“gettin' my kicks watchin' arty French flicks with my shades on” anyone?) et al by singing in a matter of fact way that lets the songs speak for themselves.

She’s superbly supported by Mullen, who imbues Peel Me A Grape with typical bluesiness, pianist Barry Green and bassist Mick Hutton on arrangements that capture the inherent style and classiness of songs such as The Riviera, which begins by quoting Django Reinhardt and ends in Antonio Carlos Jobim bossa nova mode.

Dearie died in 2009, aged 82, and this fine, fourteen song collection is a timely reminder of an often unfairly overlooked musician with much to offer.

Rob Adams