CDs from Michael Feinstein & Cheyenne Jackson and

October 31, 2009

Feinstein  jacksonThe two leads of the recently opened Broadway revival of Finian’s Rainbow each has a new CD.

Thanks to my friend Jim who is working the show, I got an advanced copy of the new  disc Cheyenne Jackson has of his recent cabaret outing with Michael Feinstein, The Power of Two.

Actually “outing” is an appropriate description for this recording, since the theme of the show seems to be the collaboration of two gay men.  (In cabaret? Imagine!)

There is a deliberate effort to sing classic songs with honest uses of pronouns vis a vis the performers.  Interestingly, Feinstein re-records Old Friend from this re-focused perspective, singing “… and she wonders at my taste in men..” as opposed to the “… taste in friends…” that he sang on his first recording in the 80’s.  We also hear that gay-piano-bar-of-an-era chestnut We Kiss in a Shadow. 

The songs are well sung, very personal, with terrific arrangements by the great John Oddo. But when the gay undertones on numbers like the Sinatra / Davis  arrangement of Me and My Shadow become overtones, I have to say that a bunch of charm is lost.  Ditto You’re Nothing Without Me from City of Angels — especially the cringe-inducing “you’re the master and I’m just a dog” lyric.  On the other hand, it was wonderful to be reminded of the terrific Marshall Barer / Michael Leonard song The Time Has Come — a bossa nova anthem that should be played at every same-sex wedding (I know I want it at mine).

I will say that without the benefit of the patter from the live show, I get confused by the vibe on the CD.  The songs themselves skirt the line between friendship and romance, and to my limited knowledge, Feinstein and Jackson have other partners.  On the other hand, when a genetically unrelated male and female share a stage, there’s always a presumption of romance, even if the duo is George Burns and Goldie Hawn.  So perhaps this is another way of questioning our perceptions and assumptions.

  • I’m Nothing Without You (Cy Colman/David Zippel)/Michael & Cheyenne
  • Me and My Shadow (Dave Dreyer/Bill Rose/Al Jolson)/Michael & Cheyenne
  • Old Friend (Nancy Ford/Gretchen Cryer)/Michael
  • A Foggy Day (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin)/Cheyenne
  • So in Love (Cole Porter)/Michael
  • Old Devil Moon (Burton Lane/E.Y. Harburg)/Cheyenne
  • The Time Has Come (Michael Leonard/Marshall Barer)/Michael
  • I’m Checkin’ Out – Goodbye (Billy Strayhorn/Duke Ellington)/Cheyenne
  • The Power of Two (Emily Saliers)/Michael & Cheyenne
  • I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter (Fred E. Ahlert/Joe Young)/Michael
  • I Get Along Without You Very Well – Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (Hoagy Carmichael –Duke Ellington/Bob Russell)/Cheyenne
  • We Kiss in a Shadow (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II)/Michael & Cheyenne
  • Salt and Pepper – I’m Nothing Without You (John Barry/Leslie Bricusse – Cy Colman/David Zippel)/Michael & Cheyenne
  • If I Can Dream (W. Earl Brown)/Michael & Cheyenne
  • Someone to Watch Over Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin)/Cheyenne

(Note: Special pre-order offer for a signed copy of the CD.)

KATE BALDWIN: LET'S SEE WHAT HAPPENSThe leading lady of Finian’s Rainbow has released a new CD, appropriately a tribute to songs writen by Burton Lane and Yip Harbourg, Let’s See What Happens.

The CD is exquisitely sung — if you have a particular affinity for any of these songs, Baldwin’s version is sure to be a favorite.  There is a good balance of familar material (How Are Things in Glocca Morra ?) and discoveries (The World Is In My Arms).  And that master, Jonathan Tunick, has contributed arrangements for the recording.

Unfortunately, for me, the total adds up to less than a sum of its parts.  The recording has no discernable raison d’etre, and sadly never develops momentum.  And while Baldwin is a beautiful singer with a point of view, there is little distinctive in her work.  She seems to disappear into a lovely soprano haze. 

On the other hand, we’re about to do a lot of holiday entertaining, and this would be perfect to put in the mix for your next cocktail or dinner party!

  • That Something Extra Special
  • How About You?
  • Moments Like This
  • Come Back To Me
  • Here’s To Your Illusions
  • Have Feet Will Dance
  • How Are Things In Glocca Morra?
  • Poor You
  • Paris Is A Lonely Town
  • I Like The Likes Of You
  • Let’s See What Happens/ Open Your Eyes
  • Where Have I Seen Your Face Before?
  • He Wasn’t You
  • I Don’t Think I’ll End It All Today
  • The World Is In My Arms
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This week at Germano’s…

October 29, 2009

At Charm City’s top cabaret venue this weekend…

On Thursday, October 29, actor, director and adored BSA theatre instructor, Tony Tsendeas presents “A Poe Cabaret” as he transforms himself both visually and emotionally into the mad characters of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories.  We are very excited about this show.   A fitting prelude to Halloween….  $10 cover benefits The Baltimore School for the Arts. Show starts at 7:30pm and doors open at 6pm for pre-show dining.

On Friday, October 30, The Lyric Opera House Presents “Opera a la Carte” with acclaimed soprano Sara Stewart, tenor Rolando Sanz and Musical Director James Harp.  This is the kick-off event for the Bravo Lyric Opera Cabaret Series, the first Saturday night of each month beginning January 2.   Show starts at 7:30pm and doors open at 6pm for pre-show dining.  $10 cover benefits The Lyric Opera House Education Outreach.

Please call 410.752.4515 for reservations.

Tickets and info

 

Thank you for supporting the arts in Baltimore!


Stephen Holden on Paula West

October 29, 2009

The NYTimes on the singer appearing at the Algonquin: “No singer can be all things to all people. (A pop-gospel arrangement of “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes” felt more dutiful than deeply felt.) But Ms. West comes as close as any jazz singer nowadays to carrying off that impossible feat.”


Stephen Holden on Amanda McBroom

October 28, 2009

The NYTimes reviews McBroom’s show at the Metropolitan Room: “Most of those songs are theatrical monologues demanding that a singer dwell inside their turbulence and ride out the storm as they intensify and dissipate like musical tornados. They can build into a demented frenzy, like “Carousel,” in which an accelerating merry-go-round is a metaphor for a world gone mad, or slowly slip into despair, like “Ne Me Quitte Pas.

“That French title, literally translated, is a blunt imperative, “Don’t leave me!” — a lot harsher than its familiar American adaptation, “If You Go Away,” lets on. The difference between the American and French versions, Ms. McBroom joked, is the difference between Baskin-Robbins and baked Alaska.”


Great Bruce Springsteen Article

October 28, 2009

Bruce Springsteen. Click image to expand.Slate has a great article about Bruce Springsteen and the making of Born to Run (by necessity an important music milestone for anyone who had grown up in New Jersey in the 70’s).

Springsteen’s music has had a number of notable cabaret treatments.  My favorite is Barbara Fasano’s amazing recording of Rick Jensen’s recording of Thunder Road

Favorite quote from the article:  “What mattered to him was to sound spontaneous, not to be spontaneous. “Spontaneity,” he said, in 1981, “is not made by fastness. Elvis, I believe, did like 30 takes of ‘Hound Dog,’ and you put that thing on,” and it just explodes.”


Norm Lewis on CD

October 27, 2009

Norm LewisWhen I saw First You Dream at Signture, I picked up Norm Lewis’s CD, This is the Life.  The recording demonstrates a multifaceted artist who can successfully pull off a wide variety of mateial, from Broadway to Latin to Mozart.  The variety is terrific and demonstrates Lewis’s great prowess, but occasionally gets a little schizo as a listening experience. 

But Lewis also has a large ensemble with great orchestrations, which especially sizzle on numbers like It’s Not Unusual and the anthemic Go the Distance.  And the highlight of the CD is a duet with Audra MacDonald on All the Things You Are. 

  • This Is the Life
  • Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?
  • No One Is Alone
  • Before the Parade Passes By
  • Moon River
  • We Live On Borrowed Time
  • It’s Not Unusual
  • Misty
  • All the Things You Are
  • Di Provenza
  • Go the Distance

Stephen Holden on Liz Callaway

October 25, 2009

The NYTimes reviews the belter at the Metropolitan Room: “Liz Callaway radiates the health and well-being of a Midwestern soccer mom who has it all. The apple-cheeked optimism of this Chicago-born singer is embedded in a big, bright Broadway voice that illuminates a room like a ray of sunshine beamed to the rafters. This sweetness and light would be cloying if it didn’t feel entirely genuine and didn’t also carry an undertone of yearning. Abundance, after all, brings its own disquiet.”