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A Lazy Afternoon

Shirley Horn

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Album Review

One of a series of recordings that helped Shirley Horn relaunch her career after taking time off to raise her daughter, A Lazy Afternoon is a fine studio set with bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy Hart. An always effective vocalist who provided her own top-notch accompaniment on piano, Horn's almost conversational style of singing works very well whether she is swinging an oldie like "I'm Old Fashioned" or delivering a lush, infectious interpretation of a ballad like "A Lazy Afternoon." In addition to well-known material, she uncovers lost gems like Gordon Jenkins' "New York's My Home" (delivered in a narrative-like style that has a funky flavor) and Peggy Lee's neglected swinging song "Take a Little Time to Smile." The one instrumental is an extended workout of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Gentle Rain." If there's a weak track on the date, it is Bill Withers' "Gra'ma's Hands," as even her best effort at casting it in a slow blues-gospel arrangement doesn't overcome the repetitious nature of the composition, a frequent problem with adapting Withers' work into a jazz setting.

Biography

Born: 01 May 1934 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A superior ballad singer and a talented pianist, Shirley Horn put off potential success until finally becoming a major attraction while in her fifties. She studied piano from the age of four. After attending Howard University, Horn put together her first trio in 1954, and was encouraged in the early '60s by Miles Davis and Quincy Jones. She recorded three albums during 1963-1965 for Mercury and ABC/Paramount, but chose to stick around Washington, D.C., and raise a family instead of pursuing her career....
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A Lazy Afternoon, Shirley Horn
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