Albums

$25.49

Crossover - Released December 8, 1989 | Rhino Atlantic

$4.99

Crossover - Released February 14, 2006 | Rhino Atlantic

$11.49

Crossover - Released May 17, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

In the summer of 1957, when Bobby Short went into the studio to record his fourth 12" LP for Atlantic Records, the label hired an orchestra for one of the dates, and Short cut a total of 27 songs for what was supposed to be a two-record set. Atlantic seems to have reconsidered the economics of such a package, however, and the resulting album, Sing Me a Swing Song, was a conventional single disc, with the rest of the tracks going into the vault. It was only much later that Short persuaded Atlantic to go public with the remaining material on this album, Nobody Else but Me. But from a musical standpoint, it didn't make that much difference whether this album appeared in the late '50s or the early '70s. Great changes may have taken place in the world of popular music in general, but not in the classy nightclubs of Manhattan. Beginning with two songs on which he's joined by his rhythm section of Ismael Ugarte on bass and Sonny Rivera on drums, and ending with three songs featuring the orchestra conducted by Phil Moore, with seven songs in the middle on which he accompanies himself on the piano alone, Short turned to his usual favorites for song choices (i.e., the great songwriters of the interwar period) including composers Harold Arlen, Noël Coward, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and Arthur Schwartz, with the likes of Coward, Porter, Howard Dietz, Dorothy Fields, Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein II, Lorenz Hart, and Ted Koehler providing the words for him to sing. The trick here was that, while the names of the songwriters are familiar, most of the song titles were not. Short rummaged around lesser Broadway and Hollywood musicals for forgotten songs that had much of the melodic and lyrical sparkle one associates with the great songwriters, but none of the overuse. He sang them in his usual forthright style, never leaning too hard on meaning or sentiment, but moving along to the next witty phrase or catchy bit of melody. This is an album that sounds like it's full of classics, even though most listeners won't have heard most of the songs before. ~ William Ruhlmann
$12.99

Crossover - Released May 17, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

For his fifth full-length Atlantic Records album, Bobby Short looked back 30 years to create a genre exercise titled The Mad Twenties. It turned out to be a wonderful evocation of the 1920s that restored that roaring decade's sense of musical abandon. Short, always a bravura performer, was abetted by appropriately jazzy Dixieland-style arrangements by conductor Phil Moore and a small horn-and-rhythm band that knew the music and played it with the right spirit. The instrumental passages were full of the sound of the jazz age, and Short was completely in the spirit of the music as a vocalist, even affecting a croon on "Sweet So and So" and "I'm Bringing a Red, Red Rose" as if he were Rudy Vallée singing through a megaphone in his Ivy League tones, and plaintively handling the recitation in "Laugh, Clown, Laugh" as if he were Ted Lewis smiling through his tears. Such performances bespoke a thorough understanding of the style of '20s pop and jazz music. This was no attempt to update an older style, unlike so much of '50s light pop; Short re-enlivened the '20s by playing its music with the irreverence and verve with which it was played originally. It was hard to imagine what record buyers of 1959 could be expected to make of the album, but on its own terms, it was terrific. ~ William Ruhlmann
$11.49

Crossover - Released May 17, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

$10.49

Crossover - Released May 17, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

My Personal Property is Bobby Short's album of songs written by pop and show composer Cy Coleman, all of them except the title track with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh. Short is a longtime musical friend of an earlier generation of similar writers such as Cole Porter, Noël Coward, George Gershwin, and Rodgers & Hart, but he proves just as compatible with Coleman, if not more so. Coleman got his start in Tin Pan Alley, penning standards like "The Best Is Yet to Come" and "Witchcraft" before moving to Broadway with the musicals Wildcat ("Hey Look Me Over") and Little Me. His jazzy, upfront style and strong melodies are perfect for Short's forceful interpretative style, and Leigh's sly, witty lyrics are equally appropriate to a singer used to wringing every humorous nuance from Cole Porter. Short has learned to vary his approach over the years, not playing and singing flat out on every number, and that allows him to be delicate and precise on "I've Got Your Number," for example, without any loss of power. The piano-bass-drums arrangements are augmented by a couple of conga players here and there, to good effect. Coleman has had some important interpreters, including Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, but Bobby Short is worthy of such company, and he demonstrates that Coleman is worthy of the company of the classic songwriters he usually covers. ~ William Ruhlmann
$10.49

Crossover - Released May 17, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Bobby Short went five years without recording in the mid-'60s as the British Invasion swept all before it. But his Town Hall concerts with Mabel Mercer in 1968 led to live duo albums that brought him back to record stores, and his residency at the Cafe Carlyle in New York gave him renewed cachet. Thus, he returned to the recording studio for Jump for Joy, which he performed with the usual trio of himself on piano and vocals, Beverly Peer on bass, and Richard Sheridan on drums. For once, the purveyors of the Great American Songbook were absent: no Porter or Gershwin or Rodgers. Instead, Short performed a combination of recent songs from Broadway and old, bluesy numbers. The latter seemed to draw the greatest enthusiasm from him as he revisited some tunes he might have played in Midwest roadhouses back in his youth, songs like "Romance in the Dark," "I'm Confessin' That I Love You," and the newly trendy "If You're a Viper," an ode to marijuana use. The inclusion of such a song was a sort of backhanded acknowledgement of the times, and like other middle-of-the-road entertainers during the '60s, Short also sifted through the work of contemporary writers for suitable material. He found it in Randy Newman's "Simon Smith & the Amazing Dancing Bear" and Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "Whoever You Are I Love You," the latter drawn from the Broadway musical Promises, Promises. Short also drew from other recent stage shows, plucking "I'm Glad to See You've Got What You Want" from Celebration by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt of The Fantasticks fame, as well as "I Cannot Make Her Jealous" and "Just for Today" from Ervin Drake's Her First Roman. Of course, the title song was taken from Duke Ellington's 1941 musical. This was not material on a par with the songs Short had sung on past albums and that he was known to play every night at the Cafe Carlyle, and his singing had begun to take on a huskier tone after decades of nightclub work. But even second-drawer Short on record was welcome after so many years away. ~ William Ruhlmann
$12.99

Crossover - Released April 19, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

After three albums of piano trio music with only the occasional added instrument, Bobby Short was given a somewhat expanded budget for Sing Me a Swing Song by Atlantic Records. The label paid for a six- or seven-piece horn section, along with a four-piece rhythm section, for two-thirds of the tracks. That still wasn't a big band by swing era standards, but it made the album the most musically varied of Short's career so far. Phil Moore's arrangements didn't make extensive use of the extra musicians, restricting them mainly to background color, but the fuller sound allowed Short to step back a bit as a vocalist. On earlier recordings, he often sounded like he was still in a club trying to bellow over noisy diners, but here he often sang more smoothly. The selection of material also added to the set's diversity. There was the usual complement of Cole Porter titles, but also the bluesy Duke Ellington songs "I'm Checking Out, Goombye" and "Rocks in My Bed," and the Marx Brothers novelty "Lydia." As usual, Short sold the lyrics unabashedly, but instead of competing with the horns, he worked with them well, especially on Porter's "For No Reason or Rhyme," which really made use of them for expressive purposes. It was enough to make you wonder what Short might accomplish with strings. ~ William Ruhlmann