Albums

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Crossover - Released January 26, 2018 | SKIP Records

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Crossover - Released October 14, 2016 | Real Gone Music

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Crossover - Released November 19, 2012 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

The success of Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which opened at the Nederlander Theater on Broadway on May 12, 1981, and ran 333 performances, until June 30, 1982 (Horne's 65th birthday) was a cumulative one. Horne had been performing in nightclubs, theaters, and casinos for 40 years, singing many of the same songs she sang at the Nederlander, but somehow the Broadway context and her perseverance combined to make this more than a glorified club act. Horne had the benefit of being an artist who had faced adversity (particularly, the vicissitudes of being an African-American star in Hollywood in the 1940s) and, if not triumphed, at least persisted, so that, as she reached her golden age, her struggles within the entertainment business could be seen as heroic. And, she was still at it, which made her, in the nomenclature of the time, a "survivor." That earned her gales of applause from theatergoers who had made the journey with her and from new fans who were too young to remember her and were discovering her anew. The show made some attempt to at least trace the outlines of Horne's career from being a Cotton Club chorus girl in the 1930s to a movie star in the '40s. After a clutch of initial songs, an announcer made a Cotton Club announcement, and there was a short dramatic scene featuring several other performers who gave Horne a breather by doing a few numbers. Otherwise, she periodically interrupted the run of songs for personal reminiscences about her career as introductions to songs with which she was associated from her movie and previous Broadway musical appearances. The bulk of the show, however, was given over to her typically moving interpretations of classic songs by Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Harold Arlen, and others. Among the new material, there was an emphasis on songs about endurance and self-reliance, in keeping with the overall theme, notably the Jim Croce hit "I Got a Name" and Paul Williams' "Life Goes On," both of which were turned into showstoppers. But then, the show was one showstopper after another, and a fitting capper to a great career. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Crossover - Released April 14, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic

The pairing of sophisticated cabaret singers of two generations -- sexagenarian Mabel Mercer and merely middle-aged Bobby Short -- in a concert at Manhattan's Town Hall on May 19, 1968, was an inspired idea on the part of promoter George Wein, and an even better choice for a double-LP release by Atlantic Records. Both performers were longtime signees to the label, which made things easy. The first LP belonged to Short, who, backed by his usual cohorts, bassist Beverly Peer and drummer Dick Sheridan, turned in a typically appealing set that began with a quartet of Cole Porter songs and went on to a couple of Cy Coleman songs. His expertise on the music of these songwriters was well established, but he went on to try some jazzier and bluesier material, notably "Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer)" and Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's "Something to Live For," varying these selections with the witty novelties "And Her Mother Came Too" and "On the Amazon." Mercer's set, heard on the second disc, was not so diverse, but her precise rendering of a set of light, romantic lyrics and winning melodies, also dipping into the Porter and Coleman songbooks, kept the audience transfixed. The two returned together for the encore to duet playfully on "The 59th Street Bridge Song" and, appropriately, Coleman's "Here's to Us." The result was a stylish musical evening that harked back decades in New York society and nightlife, but managed to seem utterly contemporary, and it's effectively captured here. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Crossover - Released May 17, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

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Crossover - Released May 17, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
Bobby Short is the Frank Sinatra of the supper clubs. Like Sinatra, Short is a consummate entertainer, a true professional. But the distance between Caesar's Palace and the Café Carlyle is approximately equal to the distance between Hoboken and uptown Manhattan, and Short's style is absolutely uptown. He has none of the hardscrabble swagger that infused Sinatra's work with pathos. If ever there was a time when Bobby Short was not invited to all the right parties, he doesn't let on, not for a note. The complete absence of angst makes Bobby Short Celebrates Rodgers & Hart easy listening indeed, but in the most wonderful way. His voice is unruffled and mellifluous, his phrasing spirited without ever being quite over the top. His articulation of Lorenz Hart's superb lyrics rests upon his witty and urbane piano playing like a marcelled starlet draped across a chaise lounge. His music is lovely without being too sweet, coquettish without being coarse, droll without being camp. Debonair, cosmopolitan and utterly self-possessed, Bobby Short is the just the man for the classic show tunes of Rodgers & Hart. Throughout this recording, he sustains a fantasy of New York that exists only on the big screen, and only in black and white. The national anthem of this magical dreamland is the "Hollywood Party" medley. This song is itself a delightful little movie -- a rousing start; drama, action, and intrigue in the middle; culminating in one big, big finale. ~ Jessica Jernigan
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Crossover - Released May 17, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

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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