Here’s that living ray-of-hope Karen Mason singing one of the great Brian Lasser songs at a recent Trevor Project benefit with the ever-amazing Christopher Denny at the piano.
For my money, of the 20 or so As If We Never Said Goodbyes I’ve seen or heard, Karen Mason does the best job of combining the voacal and dramatic demands of the song. A rare clip of her doing the song in concert in Barcelona:
A new Karen Mason video is always a treat. Here she is as Norma Desmond singing With One Look.
Saturday night, I got to see an amazing concert at the Metropolitan Room, a benefit for Help is on the Way, a group that assists youth with AIDS. The concert was organized by Lina Koutrakos and Lennie Watts as part of their Summer in the City cabaret workshop.
The theme of the concert was “Broadway Our Way,” with artists interpreting songs from the Great White Way. Highlights included Koutrakos’s interpretation of Shall We Dance as a woman debating whetehr a brief sexual encounter was worth her while, Terese Genesco rocking the room with A Lotta Living to Do, K.T. Sullivan’s addled reading of Colored Lights, and Karen Mason poignant pairing of Now I Have Everything and Married. Moreover, Mary Foster Conklin got me to not hate Something Good and Jenna Esposito found a great audience involvement moment in Down With Love, getting the crowd to shout the “take it away” repeats.
Here’s the line-up — truly a great cabaret sampler:
- Mary Foster Conklin
- The Gentleman is a Dope
- Something Good
- Jenna Esposito
- Old Devil Moon
- Down With Love
- David Gurland
- Stay With me / Wait
- David Gurland & Julie Rayburn
- Bill / Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe
- Teresa Genesco
- A Lotta Living to Do
- Somebody Loves Me
- Sidney Meyer
- I’m a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Man
- Lina Koutrakos
- Shall We Dance
- Lennie Watts
- Karen Mason
- Almost Like Being In Love
- Now I Have Everything /Married
- K.T. Sullivan
- My Husband’s First Wife
- Just Once / Colored Lights
MAC Awards were announced in NY Monday night. Here’s a list of the winners. Special congratulations to friends-of-this-blog Karen Mason and Karen Oberlin.
The Broadway Up Close and Personal series at the Kennedy Center is doing a concert on Monday saluting the work of Sheldon Harnick, lyricist for shows including Fiddler on the Roof, The Apple Tree, and She Loves Me.
The concert features an amazing cast: Karen Mason, Ron Raines, and Kate Baldwin with music direction by Joseph Thalken.
I know, I know. The point of the New Year is to look forward, not back. However, here are what I would consider the top cabaret CDs of 2008. In the next post, I’ll deal with some titles that are not quite so squarely in the genre.
The debut CD from Dwayne Britton has stunning vocals against lovely, contemporary arrangements. Although a few things creep their way into American Idol territory, his pure approaches on songs such as Pure Imagination and Rainbow Connection redeem whatever faults other tracks may have.
As the always-insightful Emily Everson opines, there’s Barbara Cook, and then there’s everyone else. Although this is far from being her best CD, she continues to be the towering presence in contemporary cabaret work. And the good news is that Lee Musiker is getting some style and inventiveness back into her arrangements. Who ever knew that “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” could be a portrait of a stalker?
Any available new Nancy LaMott tracks have to be a “must have.” The material assembled here shows a wide range of LaMott performances. Time to feel thrilled all over again.
This CD reconstructed LuPone’s Les Mouches act from the late 70′s from a box of cassettes of various performances. The CD has an amazingly “live” feel and shows an exciting personality at a critical point in her career.
Probably the CD I’ve listened to the most this year, this recording is what every cabaret artist should aspire to. It has amazing vocals ranging from warm, to sassy, to embracing, to heartbreaking. The arrangements show Chris Denny’s combination of flawless taste and understanding of Mason’s gifts. The material includes fresh takes on familiar material as well as a new Paul Rolnick number.
I really agonized over including this, because I don’t want it to seem too much like “one for the home team.” But I have to add it because I think it’s a terrific CD. The song selection has variety and the CD contains songs people really love! I especially think the medley of Blackberry Winter and Autumn is inspired. Rick Jensen contributed stunning arrangements and beautiful piano work. And, of course, Ron’s vocals are great!
So did I miss your favorite cabaret CD of the year????
Karen Mason’s recording, Chistmas! Christmas! Christmas!, is probably the one CD I have to play every holiday season. Mason is famous for the tradition of a live show, and this wraps up amazing humor, heart and singing into one glorious gift package. And before Mason, I never knew that We Three Kings was a torch song or an eleven-o’clock number!
LaMott combines her melted-chocolate sound with a great mix of standards and then-new material. I don’t understand why more people don’t do the holiday lyric to Stay With Me, and the unexpected medley of I Saw Three Ships and Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella combines two holiday songs that I never really understood into a lovely coherent package.
Marcovicci delivers a selection of holiday classics informed by Shelly Markham’s terrific big band-flavored arrangments. My favorite selection here is Blue Champagne with a 3am on New Year’s Day feel.
Callaway’s jazz-infused vocals give a peppery dash to the holiday season. In addition to an amazing vocal to Carol of the Bells, the CD features two terrific songs penned by Callaway, This Christmas and God Bless My Family (joined by her sister Liz Callaway).
This CD has a variety of artists performing holiday standards. Highlights including Margaret Whiting’s Christmas Waltz and Dorothy Loudon’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Barbara Cook’s track here of White Christmas defines “sublime.”
Cook delivers fairly standard fare with her standardly excellent vocals and lovely, lovely Wally Harper orchestrations. The really amazing moment on this CD is a gospel-tinged version of He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands accompanied by banjo and harmonica that feels like one is visiting a small Georgia church on Christmas Eve. (Interestingly, I prefer the Cabaret Christmas version of her singing White Christmas accompanied only by Wally Harper on piano over the lushly orchestrated version on this CD.)
I’ve been thinking of doing a workshop with the theme “Stage to Cabaret” to discuss the ways cabaret artists can adapt stage material for their own use. I see the discussions revolving around performance clips showing examples of various themes.
So what do you do when you don’t have choreography and chorus boys?
Here’s the wonderful Bebe Neuwirth in All That Jazz from Chicago.
If you’re the amazing Karen Mason* with phenom arranger Chris Denny, you make enough modifications to the song to remove it from the context of the show, then you do a fierce enough vocal so that the world would wonder why you would even need to clutter it with chorus boys or choreography.
*By the way, if you haven’t gotten Karen Mason’s CD, Right Here, Right Now, yet, why haven’t you? In the ever-humble opinion of this blogger, it’s by far the best female cabaret CD that’s been released in 2008.
The amazing Karen Mason performs the song We Never Ran Out of Love, written for her by her husband Paul Rolnick. The performance is a master-class on everything that we should be doing as cabaret singers. As Lina Koutrakos would say, she combines her smarts, her chops and her heart (and it doesn’t hurt to have the wonderful Christopher Denny playin’ for ya!)
And by the way, another “must have” cabaret CD is Mason’s Right Here, Right Now.