Two investigations of sweet deep sorrow, so beautifully offered by Hilary Gardner and Ehud Asherie at that belowstairs shrine, Mezzrow, on West Tenth Street, on March 17, 2015.

LITTLE GIRL BLUE is often performed as a slow lament, in keeping with the dark indigo hue  that the lyrics would suggest, but here Hilary and Ehud give it the slightest edge of urban wryness — not merely in the slightly increased tempo, but in their delivery. Ehud mixes Ellis Larkins and Fats; Hilary has just a touch of amused world-weariness in her delivery: “What can you do?”:

A SHIP WITHOUT A SAIL is, however, gloriously sad.  Another singer might have dropped anchor into self-pity, as the lyrics urge: “All alone / and all at sea / why does no one care for me?” but Hilary floats rather than sinks.  I am so busy listening to the secret delicate walk of her phrasing and the dark caverns Ehud is opening for us, that I don’t mind the almost-sob of the lyric line:

My title has its own wryness.  I don’t mean that listeners should give up.  Rather, we all should surrender to the beauty created here by Hilary, Ehud, Larry, and Dick.  Sadness expressed as beauty both intensifies and transforms grief. Otherwise how could we go on living?

Here are two other Rodgers and Hart gems by this pair, songs dark — TEN CENTS A DANCE — and light — MANHATTAN.  I most earnestly hope that I will get more chances (note the plural) to marvel at Hilary and Ehud again, soon and later.

It may seem odd to close this post — two gorgeous sad songs — with my familiar wish, but I continue to wish that for everyone in the house.

May your happiness increase!

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