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But Beautiful: The Best of Shirley Horn

Shirley Horn

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Album Review

When vocalist/pianist Shirley Horn resurfaced after a long spell away from the recording studio and signed with Verve Records in 1987, the jazz world at large discovered what many of Horn's devoted followers already knew: that she is a huge talent and one of the great jazz singers to follow in the footsteps of legends like Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday. On her records for Verve, Horn never dazzles with flawless technique or stunning vocal tricks. Instead, she enthralls the listener with her intimate delivery and her understated yet almost visceral emotional power. Since that first record in 1987, she has released a string of good-to-excellent records, and But Beautiful: The Best of Shirley Horn on Verve compiles some of the finest moments from them, including the lovely "You Won't Forget About Me," which features Miles Davis on trumpet, maybe the best take on "Fever" since Peggy Lee's, the achingly slow and torchy "But Beautiful," and the lightly swinging "Come and Dance with Me," a track that shows that while Horn's main strength is ballads she also can swing like nobody's biz. The disc also gives a tiny taste of Horn's '60s sound with the inclusion of "The Great City" from 1963's Shirley Horn with Horns and has three bonus tracks recorded live in 2005 with a tight combo that show Horn has a surplus of style and class.

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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But Beautiful: The Best of Shirley Horn, Shirley Horn
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