Next are two legendary vocalists. First is Shirley Horn: I have these stand-alone: Loads of Love/With Horns; Jazz ’Round Midnight; Light Out of Darkness. Loads is a pair of her early lps – Loads of Love & Shirley Horn With Horns. Both from 1963 & both delightful but like many female vocalists she was working with producers who saw her as a voice not as a person. The songs are are show tunes or jazz classics like Do It Again, Wouldn’t It Be Loverly.
Jazz ’Round Midnight is a Verve compilation series that includes this one of her. It repeats some of the Loads tracks. Because of her difficulty is working with producers & studio engineers who knew better than some woman she stepped away from recording for some time. When she did return in 1993 with ‘Light Out Of Darkness’ (a tribute to Ray Charles) she was fully in control as producer & arranger.
This is a great set of Ray Charles songs from Hit The Road Jack to It Isn’t Easy Being Green. Her voice has aged well & her takes on the songs is hers. She doesn’t duplicate the Charles versions but remakes them & makes many of them her own in what feels like an effortless fashion.
Next is Lena Horne – strand alone: The Lady Is A Tramp; tucked into an Mp3 collection: Lena & Gabor: Watch What Happens. I enjoy Lena Horne more for nostalgia than as a singer. She was a trail-blazer for black women in film & was considered a great jazz vocalist but to my ear, she’s no Billie Holliday. Tramp is a compilation of ‘hits’ full of jazz standards. Her work with Gabor Szabo is more jazzy – he is a genius guitarist. Recorded in 1968 it includes unexpected current pop songs i.e Rocky Racoon.
Both are excellent vocalists for starting a jazz singer exploration. I do prefer the 1963 Horn compilation. Though Lena Horne’s work with Szabo is more pop than anything Shirley did. I’m such a big fan of Szabo anything he plays on is worth listening to & he certainly plays well with Lena.
‘Saw you in here the other day. Last week?’ I added soap to the clothes in the washing machine.
‘I suppose so.’ He leaned against them machine two down from mine. His newspaper vibrating on top if it.
‘Good thing all the machine are working today.’
‘Yep.’ he answered without looking up from his paper.
Baggy saggy ass jeans hugged his hips, waist-band of boxers showed above. Glimpse of flesh where his tight t-shirt had slid up some.
‘You live around here?’ I wanted to keep the conversation going. to get him to look at me so I could see more of his face.
‘No I take a cab here special cause this is such a friendly laundromat.’
‘Sorry I didn’t mean that to sound like such a line.’
‘Well it did.’ He finally looked up. Little trail of dark hair around his chin & up into his toque. Soul patch under his lip.
I wasn’t sure what to say or do next. I needed more text, a comment that was the right tip-off that took the action somewhere. Not that it could go anywhere outside of the laundromat. As much as I enjoyed the casual then lingering street eye-contact I never felt confident enough to ask it into my home.
I retreated to a chair that allowed me to watch my laundry till the light went off that it was ready for the drier. I did a crossword puzzle. Five-letter word for wet snow.
I glanced up. He stood before me. He scratched his hard, flat stomach inches from my face. I didn’t really want to look up.
‘It’s just that guys are always hitting on me for some reason. I’m not … you know … gay.’
‘Life is like that.’
‘Must be some sort of vibe that I send out. I don’t know. Can’t help being who I am. Can I?’
‘No more than some guys can help being who they are either.’
I expected him to move away but he leaned against the coke machine beside me.
‘Funny world. Takes a lot of getting use to.’ He pulled up his saggy baggy jeans.
‘I don’t think one very gets used to it.’
My machine dinged.
November 1 -30
November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
June – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. capfireslam.org