Recorded April 8 and 9, 1959 at Nola Recording Studio, New York City
Buoyed by the success of Ella Fitzgerald's songbook series, Verve executive Norman Granz suggested to one of his other artists, Blossom Dearie, that she tackle the canon of lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green. But while Ella's acrobatic voice proved more than a match for any brand of songwriter (especially heavyweights like Gershwin, Porter, and Berlin), Dearie's porcelain vocals and restrained theatrics didn't immediately leap to mind when thinking of Comden and Green's exuberant material. Still, Blossom Dearie Sings Comden and Green is an interesting songbook, a collection of ten standards done Dearie's way, like no other. Usually accompanied just by bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen, she exercises a great deal of restraint for the usually confident "Just in Time." When the same technique is applied to "Dance Only With Me," however, losing just a few steps of the song's waltz tempo proves nearly fatal. Also, Dearie's voice isn't as strong as on her earlier records; perhaps the slight drop in songwriting quality is as much to blame as vocal strain. The date does pick up when Kenny Burrell arrives for the second side (he provides a deft accompaniment to "The Party's Over" and "Lonely Town"), though as darling as Dearie's voice is, the similarity of the material drags down even the sprightliest songbird.
All Music Guide
This was the fourth of six titles that Blossom Dearie would record for Verve in the mid to late 1950s. As James Gavin explains in his liner essay for the 2001 reissue, Norman Granz wanted to further the success of the "songbook" concept he had developed with Ella Fitzgerald, so he sold Dearie on a tribute to the hit Broadway lyricists Adolph Green and Betty Comden. Dearie, accompanying herself on piano, is joined by the dream team of Kenny Burrell, Ray Brown, and Ed Thigpen. The sound of the disc is big and warm, enhancing the intimacy of Dearie's hushed, unadorned style, which could almost be called an anti-style. Her piano, too, is plain and simple, but also thick with a jazz sensibility and an impeccable feel for the contour of a phrase. Brown and Burrell are tremendous on "The Party's Over," which Dearie ends with a giggle. The band also cooks on "It's Love," which begins as a calypso and switches to bright swing for Burrell's aggressive solo. Dearie's voice, despite its deadpan quality, seems to fit all these moods, from the lilting swing of "Hold Me, Hold Me, Hold Me" to the sullen, quasi-rubato "How Will He Know?" Comden and Green, for their part, have a way with a disarmingly personal lyric, "I Like Myself" being a perfect example. Dearie doesn't merely sing the words, she inhabits the very sentiment, putting her enviable powers of self-invention on display.