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Here's to Life

Shirley Horn

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Album Review

Shirley Horn's meeting with a string section and an orchestra arranged by Johnny Mandel has some exquisite moments although sometimes it is just overly sweet. Horn recorded with her trio (which includes bassist Charles Ables and drummer Steve Williams) first, emphasizing slow ballads. Mandel used the pianist-vocalist's improvisations and chord voicings as the basis for his charts and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis took guest solos on "A Time for Love" and "Quietly There." Shirley Horn fans will love this CD (which includes such numbers as "Here's To Life," "How Am I To Know" and "If You Love Me") but no real surprises or contrast occurs.

Customer Reviews

Here's to Life

To characterize this music as "overly sweet" in any way is to somewhat miss the point of this important jazz stylist and her music. Sweet is what we want from her. Sweet is where love lives in our memory. Perhaps one needs to have attained a certain level experience to understand the lilt in her phrasing. It is one that declares affirmation of the journey, regardless of the number of stubbed toes. Even if you are madly in love at this very moment, if you have ever loved previously you will know the what and the why of her rendition. If there is romance in your soul, dont miss this.

Overly sweet?

I love it — a goofy iTunes critic says Jazz ballad mega-legend Shirley Horn is "overly sweet." Not enough discordant angst and crass transitions for you? If you cannot see plainly the subtle, layered, and textured beauty of how Horn wondrously unfolds her musical masterpieces, and all you have to say is that it's "overly sweet," then you need to have your ears washed out with soap. Also, folks tried to force Horn into a faster, more mainstream jazz style (which has its own merit of course - but not for Horn) earlier in her career, a move which she later regretted. Leave your goofy biases out of any mention of Horn, who exquisitely exacted -- and defined -- the very essence of the self-accompanied jazz ballad to the applause of every jazz great from Miles Davis and Toots Thielmans to Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis, to name a few. Horn, on Here's to Life, is sublime in her impressionist wanderings across the jazz landscape, deftly leading hidden classics away from their hurried lives, and off to a slower, more harmonic, almost haunting, place where we have no choice but to stop and listen...... and smile..... Horn's mastery of the jazz ballad is unmatched. I am taken aback at the sophomoric, stunted view of her work by the iTunes critic.

her greatest album

this album turned me on to Shirley Horne, who was a singer's singer. I bought all her albums subsequently but this has always been the best. There are few other albums to surpass it in female jazz vocalists. I only wish I had seen her in concert before her death.

Biography

Born: May 1, 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....
Full Bio
Here's to Life, Shirley Horn
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