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Here's To Life: Shirley Horn with Strings

4.9 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 21, 1992
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 21, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B0000046KM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,549 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Giuseppe C. HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 23, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Simply put, the best jazz vocalist recording of the last 20 years. I've purchased numerous copies to give to people whose musical and aesthetic sensibilities I trust. If depression comes from the inability to find in nature beauty commensurate with that in the human psyche, this album is guaranteed to administer a cure. The choice of songs, the re-visioning of each song, the piano accompaniments of Horn herself, the trumpet work of Wynton Marsalis (who filled in at the last minute after Miles' untimely death), the transcendent arrangements of Johnny Mandel, and the sublime readings of Ms. Horn cannot account for this "miracle" of a recording whose meaning is far greater than the sum of the parts. Not since late Bill Evans have I heard anything this beautiful on record. It fact, it would be hard to leave it off of any list of five best jazz recordings ever.
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Format: Audio CD
I simply don't know how to review a cd such as this. It's so rare when a disc is released that says so much in such beautiful and remarkable ways that it literally leaves me in tears. Where do you start?
I had originally purchased this disc on a whim...I wasn't aware of how powerful Shirley's music/voice was but the song selection attracted me and being orchestrated by Johnny Mandel I thought it might be good for an occassional listen. Looking back I can only sit and wonder at my innocence. The sheer beauty of Ms. Horn's voice, the range, subtly of phrasing and simple "good taste" in performing each song is just short of a miracle. Songs such as "Where Do You Start?", "Return To Paradise" and of course the title track still thrill me with every listen and trust me when I say I've listened to this cd many, many times. And I am still in awe of what I hear. It is truly inspiring to hear a singer of Shirley's experience be able to bring not only a certain worldweariness to these selections but also a touch of inncocence that is hard to deny. That in itself is what makes Shirley Horn a truly great singer.... these simple contradictions in style! And, lest I forget, Johhny Mandel's sublime orchestration is truly the "second voice" on the cd. If anyone could complement Shirley's voice it would have to be J, Mandel's orch. Is it any wonder this disc has won several grammy's?
I can only hope that you will find yourself one day purchasing a copy of this amazing disc and finding out for yourself how simple, honest and mature music is still being performed.Believe me...this woman sings from which only time and experience can teach us.
Here's to Shirley....for giving us a wonderful gift!
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Format: Audio CD
Would that I could give Shirley Horn's combo-and-strings set 200 stars-- it's just that wonderful. Shirley plays to her usual high standards, and the orchestra just adds more gentle thrills. Johnny Mandel has carved a niche for himself as a sensitive, careful arranger for jazz singer/pianists, and this recording with Shirley Horn highlights his gifts: orchestrations that stay respectfully out of the vocalist's way (his pastel shadings mesh with Shirley's Impressionist chordings as perfectly as a Monet landscape), but maintain the same still intensity projected by the soloist. Shirley's voice projects a unique blend of wistful hope and world-weariness, but in the climax of the title song, her voice rings over the orchestra with spine-tingling power. Another highlight was the moving "You're Nearer", simply Shirley singing and playing without accompaniment; this performance can be analyzed for hours vis-à-vis its seamless union of piano and voice and silence-- or enjoyed as arguably one of the most perfect vocal ballads of our time, rivaling Shirley's "The Music that Makes Me Dance" on "You Won't Forget Me". A stunning CD.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I believe Shirley Horn and this CD are an undiscovered treasure. Well into her seventies and not recently in the best of health, Ms. Horn is a national treasure for jazz lovers. While she barely sings above a whisper, her emotion,timing and phrasing are on par with Sinatra--heady company indeed. This album showcases her vocal and piano skills in a golden light.Combined with the lush overlay of Johnny Mandel's beautiful string arrangements, this is a truly glorious cd that stays with you. Rarely have I seen a CD described on Amazon in such universally passionate and glorious terms.
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Format: Audio CD
In this unusual CD from 1992, her first CD with a full orchestra in almost thirty years, Shirley Horn teams up with composer/orchestra leader Johnny Mandel. Horn has always sung as part of a trio, playing piano (which she considers her primary skill) to the accompaniment of Charles Ables on bass and Steve Williams on drums, and she insisted on recording the songs on this CD originally with just Ables and Williams backing her. Mandel, adapting his own arrangements to her recordings, enhances and emphasizes her music instead of competing with it.

As is usually the case, Horn slows down her tempo and sings quietly, sometimes even whispering the words to convey the emotion and drama of the lyrics, as the violins and violas from Mandel's orchestra add to the romance quietly in the background, often playing only chords throughout. Most of the songs begin a capella (or nearly so) with Horn adding her piano to her voice before the song takes off.

Three of the most interesting songs are, not surprisingly, Mandel's own songs. "A Time for Love," in which Horn laughs when she sings of holding hands, also features a trumpet solo by Wynton Marsalis halfway through, Marsalis playing brightly, but not brassily, in deference to the mood. Marsalis also solos in "Quietly There," another Mandel song in which the vibes provide accents to the unusual harmonies and disharmonies of this jazzy interpretation. (Marsalis agreed to substitute for Miles Davis, who passed away before the CD was completed.) "Where Do You Start," about the breakup of a household, begins, unusually, with the full orchestra to which Horn adds her piano before beginning to sing, a song of great poignancy and sadness.
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