CDs from Michael Feinstein & Cheyenne Jackson and

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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2 Responses to CDs from Michael Feinstein & Cheyenne Jackson and

  1. Jill Leger says:

    Thank you for this, Michael! I want it! It sounds wonderful and I love your pointing out the “taste in men”/”taste in friends” difference. Good for Michael F. I read a wonderful story on Cheyenne in the Toronto Star this weekend. An interesting fellow to be sure.
    http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/theatre/article/718326–cheyenne-autumn

    xxoo

  2. Chris Cochran says:

    This is really such a wonderful piece Micahel. You’re so thoughtful and reflective about analyzing the bones of these recordings. It’s such a pleasure to read.

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