Solo performer: Bobby Short (piano, vocals).
Recorded at the Cafe Carlyle, New York on June 20-22, 1991. Includes liner notes by Donald Elfman.
Personnel: Bobby Short (vocals, piano); Robert Scott (drums).
Liner Note Author: Donald Elfman.
Recording information: Cafe Carlyle, Carlyle Hotel, New York, NY (06/20/1991-06/22/1991).
After more than three decades, off and on, Bobby Short moved from Atlantic Records to the audiophile Telarc label, which wisely began the new association by tracking him to his lair, the Cafe Carlyle of the Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side, where he had been entertaining patrons for a quarter-century. Captured over three nights in June 1991, the 66-year-old singer/pianist presented a ballad set appropriate to the "late night" billing of the title. He doesn't worry about repeating tracks from his many modest sellers for Atlantic, revisiting Rodgers & Hart's "Do I Hear You Saying 'I Love You'" (first heard on Speaking of Love in 1958) at the outset, and also including new versions of the Gershwins' "Love Is Here to Stay," Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick out of You," and the standard "Body and Soul," all of which have graced previous discs. It doesn't matter, of course. Short was more a live performer than a recording artist, despite his extensive catalog, and his job was to give you heartfelt, animated, and sophisticated readings of evergreens like "Night and Day," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," and "Too Marvelous for Words" (the last of which, come to think of it, he did previously on the home video At the Carlyle, filmed in the late '70s and released in 1986). Telarc was studious about getting a digital signal direct to disc, resulting in great clarity, all the better to hear the glasses clink during quiet passages. The album was released on the label's jazz division and Donald Elfman's liner notes use the word "jazz" frequently. But of course Short, who bills himself as "a saloon singer," was no more a jazz artist than ever, even though he obligingly threw in an instrumental version of Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll" on which bassist Beverly Peer and drummer Robert Scott get to do solos. (The marketing strategy worked, however. The album earned a placing in Billboard's jazz chart.) ~ William Ruhlmann