Washington Post critic Richard Harrington recommends these recordings as an introduction to Shirley Horn:
* "Close Enough for Love" (1988). Generally excellent but especially for the five songs featuring Horn's good friend and fellow stay-at-home legend, tenor saxophonist Buck Hill.
* "You Won't Forget Me" (1990). Besides Miles Davis and Buck Hill, guests included harmonica wizard Toots Thielemans and Wynton and Branford Marsalis. The title song was written by the Washington-based poet Valerie Parks Brown, who taught at Howard University and was among Horn's closest friends; it first appeared 30 years earlier on "Embers and Ashes," the debut that won over Miles Davis.
* "Here's to Life" (1991). Horn and her trio are augmented with strings and an orchestra conducted by Johnny Mandel, who also provided outstanding arrangements on ballads such as his own "A Time for Love" and the title track, which would remain Horn's signature song.
* "May the Music Never End" (2003). Though a new best-of recording with three new songs recorded this year in a New York club was released just this week, this album will be remembered as Horn's farewell testament, and one suspects she knew it. Though there are some upbeat songs, Horn's heartfelt readings of "Yesterday" and "If You Go Away" are sadly knowing.