I saw the legendary Joan Morris and William Bolcom at Strathmore tonight. Fortunately the concert was in the concert room at the Mansion rather than in the main theater, so we were really treated to an intimate cabaret recital.
I’ll link to my official Cabaret Scenes review when they post it, but some thoughts:
- The amazing thing about Joan Morris is the clarity and deceptive simplicity she brings to her work. All her years of experience have allowed her to know what is good, effective material for her; know what story she wants to tell with it; then trust the material; and perform the song. Even though her voice is no longer the crystalline soprano of her ’80s recordings, she knows exactly what it can and can’t do and sings in appropriate keys. And Bolcom’s accompaniment is non-pareil both in his sensitivity to the material and his sensitivity to his wife.
- They did a second verse to I Love a Piano that I’ve never heard before.
- There was a moment in the Rodgers & Hart song Too Good for the Average Man where Morris forgot the lyric for the upcoming verse. She took the time for a quick discussion with Bolcom (who played the show without much discernable sheet music) to remember what the next verse was and then put the incident behind her, returning to the song with full gusto. It was absolutely textbook — the way most of us wish we could handle a similar situation*.
- The first encore was, of course, Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise. Bolcom gave a terrific bit of backstory, saying that the main inspiration for actually writing the song came from taking his mother to lunch in Portland, Oregon, in 1971. Emily Everson was my date for the concert, and as someone who performs the song herself, was thrilled to ehar it from the source. Although I am annoyed with myself that I didn’t have the foresight to suggest that she bring a copy of the sheet for Bolcom to sign.
- When doing Here’s That Rainy Day, they simply did the song once-through. She told her story, made her point, and was willing to move on. I loved that!
Here’s their song stack:
- Act I
- I Love a Piano
- Under the Bamboo Tree
- Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries
- I Am Yours
- Tale of the Oyster
- A Ship Without a Sail
- I’ve Giot Beginner’s Luck
- Here’s That Rainy Day
- Brother, Can You Spare a Dime
- Swinging on a Star
- Makin’ Whoopee
- Act II
- Wall Street Rag (piano solo)
- Capricious Harlem (or Cappricio Harlem?) (Piano solo)
- Repeal the Blues
- Nobody Makes a Pass at Me
- Too Good for the Average Man
- The Folks Who Live on the Hill
- Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots
- Song of Black Max
- Let’s Face the Music and Dance
- Our Love Is Here to Stay
- Jeepers Creepers
- Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise (encore)
- Threepenny Things (Second encore)
*Do you read this blog, Karen Akers?