L.S. Klepp
December 15, 1995 AT 05:00 AM EST

Bobby Short: The Life and Times of a Saloon Singer

Current Status
In Season
Robert Mackintosh, Bobby Short

We gave it an A-

Bobby Short: The Life and Times of a Saloon Singer Bobby Short, with Robert Mackintosh (Clarkson Potter, $25) Duke Ellington and Count Basie could well have gotten their nicknames because they were aristocrats of jazz, embodiments not just of sophistication and high standards but of good manners and generosity. Their heir, the blue blood of contemporary music, is Bobby Short. The Marquis of Short? His principality is the Cafe Carlyle, in Manhattan’s tony Hotel Carlyle, where he’s been singing and playing polished renditions of Cole Porter songs and other standards since the ’60s. It’s a long way from his Danville, Ill., roots, in the depths of the Depression. Although Short always had talent to spare — he was performing in Chicago at age 11 — he gives credit to his mother’s sense of decorum (”more than manners”) and his coal miner father’s sense of style. There are no grudges here, in spite of stories about the stupidity of segregation in the ’30s and ’40s, and no personal revelations, either—except the refreshing one that in the Age of Spilled Beans and Dished Dirt, Short treasures his privacy. A-

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