Stephen Holden and Joe Regan on Jane Schecter

September 3, 2009

The NYTimes weighs in on Jane Schecter playing at the Metropolitan Room

Ms. Scheckter’s resistance to pop sentimentality paid off in her plainspoken renditions of two classic Berlin waltzes, “Remember” and “What’ll I Do?,” in which her absence of vocal sweetness called attention to simple heartfelt lyrics, which speak for themselves. But the show was mostly about swinging along with one of the stronger cabaret trios. Especially when Ms. Scheckter leaned into a witty, happy-go-luck “I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket,” the beat was on.”

Joe Regan, Jr., friend and fellow Cabaret Scenes contributor enthuses, “would urge all my New York friends and lovers of music to see Jane Scheckter’s extraordinary new show featuring the songs of Irving Berlin, “Play a Simple Melody”. Although most of the songs may be familiar to GAS lovers the unusual arrangements by Jane’s longtime music director and pianist Ted Firth and his trio of Tom Hubbard on bass and Peter Grant on drums and percussion cast new light on many of the selections. For example, there is a wonderful “Let Yourself Go” done as a blues against a slight Latin beat that Jane, who is singing better than ever, makes a unique dramatic statement building to an almost shocking emplosion on the last word of the song! Yes, there is an Astaire medley, but they’re not the ones you might expect and one of the great humorous bits in the act is “Puttin’ On The Ritz” which Jane performs with a cane as Grant supplies the percussion to what would have been Astaire’s taps! Jane’s narrative is relatively brief for all the information that she imparts about Berlin’s life and his tremendous range from ragtime to heartbreaking ballads. One of the real rarities is from Miss Liberty, a song about a multiple married grandmother’s advice, “Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun” which Jane delivers with droll comic timing, not missing a single pun or punchline. I won’t spoil any one’s pleasure relating what she does at the penultimate moment of the act, only say that Jane, under the direction of Erv Raible, creates a perfect way to close the act.”

Hilary Kole’s Haunted Heart

April 27, 2009

Haunted HeartWow!  I was blown away when I first heard Hilary Kole’s CD, Haunted Heart.   Kole is a jazz-veering-to-cabaret singer.  So she has an amazing lyrical integrity (but beware if you only listen to her recording and are trying to learn the melodies of any songs).

She has an amazing intensity to her singing and truly commits to her performances.  Her Blackberry Winter has a special wistfulness and she even makes warhorses like There’s a Small Hotel and What’ll I Do sound like they’re being sung for the first time.  Amazing job backing her up by Tedd Firth on piano, Paul Gill on bass, and Mark McLean on drums. 

1. It’s Love
2. There’s A Small Hotel
3. ‘Deed I Do
4. I Didn’t Know About You
5. Better Than Anything
6. Like A Lover
7. Blackberry Winter
8. The Snake
9. Old Boyfriends
10. How Am I To Know
11. What’ll I Do
12. You For Me
13. Haunted Heart

Stephen Holden on Karen Oberlin

January 16, 2008

The NYTimes reviews Karen Oberlin’s new Yip Harbug show: “In the show’s perfect moment, the little known ballad “Here’s to Your Illusions” (with music by Sammy Fain from the 1951 show “Flahooley”), Ms. Oberlin’s calm, beautifully shaped reading in the classic pop tradition was one that Ms. (Doris) Day in her prime might well have envied.”