JUST WHEN it appeared that everything that needed to be said about Shirley Horn had been said, with every superlative uttered by critic or colleague recorded, along comes an album like "I Thought About You" and suddenly all the praise seems inadequate.
Live albums such as this one -- recorded at Hollywood's Vine Street Bar and Grill -- are rarely this intimate and artful. "Something Happens to Me," a song about the contagious and recurring flush of romance, opens the album and casts a spell. And more familiar fare fares even better. No matter how often you've heard "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good," Horn's version will come as a sweet revelation -- part confession, torch song and prayer.
Her interpretations of the title track, "Our Love Is Here to Stay" and "Nice 'N' Easy" are similarly striking, rich in nuance and expression. Among the other highlights are a couple of tunes that evoke powerful, if contrasting, moods: "Summer (Estate)" and "The Great City."
Moreover, it's nearly impossible to divorce Horn's piano arrangements from her voice, so interconnected are the two. The way the notes and chordal accents embellish the vocal line on tunes such as "The Eagle and Me" is nothing short of inspired, and bassist Charles Ables and drummer Steve Williams are careful to keep it that way.
SHIRLEY HORN --
"I Thought About You" (Verve 833-235-1). Appearing Friday and Saturday at One Step Down.