In January, members of Vinyl Me, Please Classics will receive Blossom Dearie, the 1957 Verge debut from jazz pianist Blossom Dearie. It was an album that introduced American audiences to the myriad charms of Dearie, whose songs would go on to inspire artists like Feist and Norah Jones. It hasn’t been reissued on vinyl in the U.S. since it’s 1957 release. Read an excerpt from the Listening Notes for this title over here. You can sign up here.
Below, you can read why we picked Blossom Dearie’s debut as our Record of the Month.
Andrew Winistorfer, Classics A&R: To start, you were the one who, back in the summer, was like, “Storf, Blossom Dearie needs the Classics treatment.” You recommended her debut, and I listened to it, and was like, “This is way different than what we’ve done in Classics, it’s really cool, and we’ve never done a vocal jazz record in Classics.” So, how did this get on your radar in the first place?
Alex Berenson, Senior A&R: A few years ago I was working at Mom + Pop Records, and my now dear friend Julia Rich put it on the Sonos, and queued up multiple Blossom Dearie songs. Us interns and low-level people had a speaker in our room, and I was like, “What the fuck is this?” I immediately added the album to my Spotify for my commute home. It was winter time, and I was feeling dejected for whatever reason, and I listened to it and cried my entire commute home in New York. It was frigid cold, and it was the perfect album for that; it was my soundtrack for that winter, and I listened to that album every day.
Vocal jazz is the music I grew up with, so it was important to me for Classics to showcase this kind of music, particularly an artist most people don’t know or haven’t heard of. And it had never gotten a vinyl reissue here either in more than 60 years.
Yeah, that part of it was crazy. It got a couple reissues in Japan and one in the U.K. and that’s it. The thing that struck me about this album, was that it’s the first album — or maybe it’s the first one — that feels like it defines what you conceptualize as “coffeehouse jazz.” This feels like the first version of an album that fits this bill; she just made music like this, and ended up being perfect for that context and inspiring waves of jazz singers making this kind of music, but you don’t know that she’s where it starts. This is where that whole branch of jazz — up through Norah Jones — comes from.
It’s a different look from us, and this felt like such a perfect January album. It’s cool that independently we had that connection. This just sounds like winter to me.
We did the same thing we always do for Classics: Tip-on jacket, remastered 180-gram vinyl. Classic record, classic package. Natalie Weiner did the Listening Notes booklet on this one; I reach out to writers I think will like the album to see if they’re down to write the booklet, and she was like, immediately, “Yes, I have to do this,” which was really awesome. She wrote the hell out of these ones. There’s not much exciting to report. It’s just a great record like we do every month.
Andrew Winistorfer is Vinyl Me, Please’s Classics and Country Director, and an editor of their books, 100 Albums You Need In Your Collection and The Best Record Stores In The United States. He’s written Listening Notes for more than 20 VMP releases, and co-produced Nat Turner Rebellion's Laugh to Keep From Crying. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.