The New Yorker critic Whitney Balliett once said that Blossom Dearie’s tiny wisp of a voice “would scarcely reach the second storey of a doll’s house”. Indeed hers was a style which on first hearing sounded detached and impassive. After a while, however, one began to notice the deftness of her phrasing, as well as the wit and intelligence of her interpretation. She accompanied herself at the piano with the lightest of touches, rarely improvising, but employing sophisticated and immaculately voiced harmonies. Marguerite Blossom Dearie was born on April 29 1926 at East Durham, near Albany, New York, where, it is said, the locals are noted for their clarity of diction. Surprisingly, her name, so unusual and so perfectly suited to her fragile, blowaway voice, was also completely genuine. Dearie is an old Scottish name, and her father, a barman of Scottish-Irish extraction, hit upon Blossom after seeing some peach blossom shortly after her birth. She studied classical piano as a child and became interested in jazz while playing in her high-school dance band.
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