by: Paulanne Simmons




The daughter of legendary singer/songwriter Billy Joel and supermodel Christie Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel, is definitely celebrity royalty. And she looked every bit the part as she took the stage at Cafe Carlyle on Feb 24 for the premier of her two-week return engagement.

Dressed in beaded black that clung to her shapely body, a fur stole and lots of glittering jewelry, Joel was sultry and thoughtful as she sang both her own songs and songs written by her favorite composers, including Ray Charles, Randy Newman and Stevie Wonder.

Joel was backed by Carmine Giglio on piano and Garo Yellin on bass, but she played a number of her own songs on the piano. At one point, she asked for a little help from Giglio during her spoken intro, claiming, “My Dad is better at this than me.”

Joel’s song list is an eclectic mix of Broadway (“How Lovely to Be a Woman” from Bye Bye Birdie, with somewhat altered lyrics), “patriotic gospel” (Randy Newman’s “Sail Away”) and rock (Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”). Her own songs, “What the Hell Is Wrong with Me?!?,” “’Til It Goes Away,” lie squarely in the bluesy-jazz confessional tradition her father helped create.

These songs showed off Joel’s considerable technique. Despite her admission of her “many flaws” (mostly emotional) and the times she coyly asked the audience, “Do you want me at the piano?,” it was apparent Joel was in control of the evening.

However, Joel did not seem to have the vocal power necessary for all the songs. This may be attributable to the fact that she was “challenging” herself by introducing seven new songs for this engagement. One can only assume the act will keep getting better as Joel gets further into the run.

Alexa Ray Joel will be at Cafe Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue, thru March 7. Call for reservations: 212-744-1600.