In March, the words "Bobby Short died" took the heart
out of his audiences and admirers throughout the world. If you ever got a seat in the Café Carlyle,
and experienced the ‘instant party' atmosphere that Short created when he entered, and captivated, the room, you know
how he will be missed.
When Bobby Short was performing,
his panache and exuberance lit up the room. He instilled a certain confidence that everything was going to be alright–
that we could withstand troubles, prevail, and stand up and smile.
His huge repertoire covered the musical output of
Harlem and Broadway. He celebrated the great American songbook and championed African-American songwriters like Johnson, Waller,
and Ellington alongside Porter and Kern.
Short's career was a feat of self-invention
that epitomized the sophisticated spirit of the city. Other talented cabaret-style pianists, like
Michael Feinstein, Steve Ross, Eric Comstock, and Billy Stritch, found their inspiration in him. But Bobby Short was a category
His unique stride piano inextricably meshed with his
voice– a husky baritone with timbre ranging from foggy to clear. And his music was inextricably
meshed with his exuberant persona. The package had substance. As the indefatigably merry host, he could be insouciant
and playful, but never effete or superficial.
After another joyful performance last New Year's Eve
he took a break and was scheduled to resume his legendary show in May. But, sadly, the show won't go on.
Postscript: Short left a directive that there be no
funeral or memorial service. Friends felt that they could get away with a "gathering" at the Carlyle on the night that
Bobby was scheduled to open his 37th year "at the helm." The room only holds 90, but many more squeezed in as Elaine Stritch
, Diahann Carroll and Jesse Norman sang; Peter Duchin and Barbara Carroll played piano; and the waiters served chicken hash.