Ann & Liz Go “Boom”

Boom! CD Image

When listening to this recording the first time, I had to stop at track 4, because I was already so overwhelmed with emotion, awe, and admiration I didn’t want to miss the other great stuff coming up due to emotional numbness.  I’ve had to take this recording in stages, but I’ve finally made it through it.  Actually a couple times now.

The CD captures Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway doing their show “Boom,” a tribute to the music of the 60’s/70’s.  The run the pup music gamut from the Beatles to Stevie Wonder with detours to Jimmy Webb, Tony Hatch, and Carole King.  The sisters provide their usual contrast of Broadway belter and cool jazz/pop chick, with an ability to  come up with the most amazing harmonies. 

One of the things that I love the most about this recording is that it exemplifies the best of what can be accomplished with “cabaret” as an artform.  There is a level of theatricality with concept, emotional arc, jokes and dialogue that differentiate it from concert work.  The specific arrangements are tailored to the performers, and the stories emanate from the performers in a way that is different from musical theater.  And the arrangements are conceptualized, set and thought out in a way entirely different from jazz.

The music direction and arrangements on this recording deserve special mention.  It’s interesting that the arrangements are credited to the Callaways and to music director/genius Alex Rybeck — showing what a collaborative effort great cabaret needs to be.  And there are so many amazing musical decisions in this show — the Back-Seat-of-the-Car Medley starts out with the sisters singing a capella with the audience clapping along and then subtly incorporates musicians entering and ends at full press with the band.  Ann accompanies herself on piano in A Case of You.  These Boots Are Made for Walking is given a Fever-esque accompaniment.  And Blowin’ In the Wind is re-thought as a gospel spiritual.

This is also a great show for cabaret artists to study how to integrate dialogue into a song and to see the choices about where to use underscoring, where to use an intro, and where to start cold.

Needless to say, both Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway sound fantastic individually and harmonize like nobody’s business. They wittily cover baby boomer memories of their youth.  And I’m especially glad this is a live album.  I’ve always felt that the full measure of Ann Hampton Callaway’s vibrancy has never emerged in her studio work — so this gives us a great complement of her humor and passion.

Available in stores and direct from PS Classics.

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