I have to admit that I was a late convert to Shirley Horn. It took me a while to appreciate her and her music. In the beginning, I was wary of her nine and ten minute tracks, telling myself that I do not really have the time to listen to songs sung that long. Until i realized the rhyme and reason for all of it – Horn is the master of using pace and silence in interpreting a song. No one sings so strongly in a manner so slowly. And that is most evident when you listen to her “new: album” : Shirley Horn Lice At The 4 Queens. Listen to all the drama of ‘Love Man,’ where she infuses all the intimacy here but at some point it becomes a full-fledged jazz performance, beating the rhythm. At one sense it may seem schizophrenic, but her style is so soft, so subtle you barely notice the shift. And Jobim’s ‘Meditation’ sounds so different – and as effective – without all its bossa nova accoutrements. Horn sings with such personality that she makes each song sounds so earthy, and you forget at times that you have heard that song a million times before.
Who would ever think we would ever get a new something anything from Shirley Horn. This recording is from May 1988, just as she was beginning to get a later resurgence. It is glorious, and I am immediately saddened that the 4 Queens on Fremont Street is no longer showcasing these jazz class acts. I wonder if my old friend Joel E Siegel knew about this recording, as I am sure he would have loved it. He could even have been involved in this performance. As I listen to it now, I hark back on an older time of innocence, where people appreciated these kinds of things more.