Clark Warren: Jazz & Standards with A Twist

 

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Reviewed by Joe Regan Jr.

 

Handsome mature Clark Warren decided to celebrate a very significant birthday by performing a jazz tinged cabaret act at Don’t Tell Mama entitled “Jazz & Standards with a Twist,” and I was surprised to hear some great songs that I had not heard before or that had not registered with the lyric feeling that Warren projected. Accompanied by music director/pianist Dan Furman whose piano seemed like a big jazz orchestra, Warren’s first selection was a jazzy mash-up of “In A Mellow Tone” and “When Lights are Low.”

Calling himself a “Geezer,” Warren told us about a great song James Taylor wrote when Taylor was a very young man: “Mean Old Man.” Warren, who frequently used all kinds of percussion, a mouth organ, and kazoo during his numbers, joked about being a “geezer” himself and croaked out the song in an old man’s voice. Other unexpected pleasures were a rocking “Lemon Twist” by Bobby Troupe, a rapid “Take Five,” and a high-speed “It All Depends on You.” Warren has a wild way of bending his vowels when he sings important lyrics, no more so than in a stirring “Summertime.”

A special surprise was the playing of an old vinyl recording of young Frank Sinatra sending a birthday message to Warren’s wife, comparing her with his own daughter, Nancy, and Warren saluted his wife with “Nancy wit the Laughing Face” and Lew Spence and the Bergmans’ “That Face.” The connection was that Mrs. Warren’s father worked at NBC with Sinatra right at the time that Nancy Sinatra was born.

Warren changed pace with a beautiful Gerry Mulligan/Troupe ballad, “Walkin’ Shoes.” He brought up the difference between today’s music and the great American Songbook by performing Rodgers & Hart’s 1939 “I Like To Recognize the Tune” which was punctuated by snatches of “Blue Moon.” and Furman’s piano really sounded remarkable on the vocal breaks.

After a wild “Sunny Side of the Street,” the encore was a lovely “Rainbow Connection.” “Jazz and Standards with a Twist” is not the run of the mill list of great standards; it is a catalogue of unusual arrangements and vibrant singing by Clark Warren.

Clark Warren: “Jazz & Standards with a Twist” repeats at Don’t Tell Mama November 24 again at 7 PM. For reservations, go to donttellmama.com or call 212-757-0788.

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