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CD Reviews
A Roundup of CDs, Part 2

A Roundup of CDs, Part 2

By Marilyn Lester . . . Two big band sounds and the Great American Songbook with original interpretations are worthy creations to check out. Andy Farber & his Orchestra Early Blue Evening Saxophonist, arranger, composer, and bandleader Andy Farber has released his...

A Roundup of CDs, Part 1

A Roundup of CDs, Part 1

By Marilyn Lester . . . The summer has brought several debut CDs in a collection of noteworthy albums by four distaff singers of jazz and popular music. Rebecca Angel Love Life Choices Rebecca Angel’s debut album, Love Life Choices (Timeless Grooves Records RA360),...

Jane Monheit

Jane Monheit

CD Review by Marilyn Lester . . . Jane Monheit’s Come What May (Club 44 Records) celebrates the singer’s 20th year as a recording artist. She’s a top-notch jazz vocalist whose style derives from classic performers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland. Monheit is...

Mandy Barnett ‘Every Star Above’

Mandy Barnett ‘Every Star Above’

CD Review by Marilyn Lester . . . Recording artist Mandy Barnett is nothing if not versatile. She can belt out Broadway and pop, drop comfortably into country, wherein lie her roots, and, most of all, carry a torch with finesse and authority. Barnett’s latest studio...

ANAÏS RENO LOVESOME THING

ANAÏS RENO LOVESOME THING

By Marilyn Lester . . . The jazz world has a new star-in-the-making. Seventeen-year-old ANAÏS RENO can claim membership to the line of remarkable singers from Ivie Anderson to the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, to today’s Catherine Russell, Dee Dee...

CD Round-up: The New and Notable

CD Round-up: The New and Notable

By Marilyn Lester . . . There’s no shortage of recorded music being released these days, and so much of it is deserving of at least a mention in the absence of a full-scale review. Here’s a rundown of several CDs that are well worth exploring: Allan Harris: Kate’s...

Billy Stritch and Tony DeSare

Billy Stritch and Tony DeSare

By Marilyn Lester . . . Billy Stritch: Billy's Place When you’ve got performing in your blood it’s not likely a pandemic is going to get you down. So, when live performances stopped a year ago, Billy Stritch got into gear entertaining online, at home, with his weekly...

FIAF Virtual CinéSalon and Events On Demand – Desire

FIAF Virtual CinéSalon and Events On Demand – Desire

By Marilyn Lester . . . FIAF, the French Institute-Alliance Française, has conceived a delightful three-part series, Love, Desire & Mystery—Il Parle, Elle Chante, with Broadway actress-singer, Melissa Errico, pianist Tedd Firth and writer and lyricist, Adam...

Nicolas King Act One: Celebrating 25 Years of Recordings

Nicolas King Act One: Celebrating 25 Years of Recordings

CD Review by Marilyn Lester . . . A career retrospective when you’re not even 30 years old? Well, yes—if you’ve been performing professionally since age four and your name is Nicolas King. Act One: Celebrating 25 Years of Recordings (on the Club44 Record label) is a...

Liz Callaway Comfort and Joy – An Acoustic Christmas

Liz Callaway Comfort and Joy – An Acoustic Christmas

CD Review by Marilyn Lester Singer-actress, Tony nominee and Emmy winner, Liz Callaway, says she didn’t necessarily start out to make a Christmas CD this year, but we’re awfully glad she did––and there’s still lots of time to enjoy it. The twelve days of...

CD Roundup

CD Roundup

by Marilyn Lester New and Noteworthy Recordings • All the Girls with star Broadway vocalists Rebecca Luker and Sally Wilfert is available from PS Classics on Friday, December 25 in digital and streaming formats and a. a CD on Friday, January 15, 2021. Adapted from the...

Anyone Can Whistle

Anyone Can Whistle

by Marilyn Lester When Stephen Sondheim (music/lyrics) and Arthur Laurents (book) devised the three-act musical Anyone Can Whistle, the two were a few years beyond their Broadway success of West Side Story. Having been in Leonard Bernstein’s shadow on that project,...

CD Reviews: Tis the Season

CD Reviews: Tis the Season

By Marilyn Lester The Festive Season has arrived, and among the lights and trees and other signs of the holidays, Christmas albums have too. Here are several for cozy listening by the fireside, be it real or virtual. Edmund Bagnell: Christmas at Home The...

Two Ladies of Jazz

Two Ladies of Jazz

By Marilyn Lester Nicole Zuraitis: The Way Home Pianist-singer-songwriter and Grammy-nominee Nicole Zuraitis is a top-flight jazz diva who’s always looked for new ways to mold and bend her art. Zuraitis is an artist brimming with intelligence and an explorer’s spirit,...

A Potpourri of New Releases from Broadway Records

A Potpourri of New Releases from Broadway Records

By Marilyn Lester Secondhand Lions The 2003 feel-good movie, Secondhand Lions, set in 1960s Texas, told the lively, charming tale of a lonely boy who’s sent by his avaricious mother to spend the summer with two eccentric great uncles who are rumored to be sitting on a...

Luba Mason Triangle

Luba Mason Triangle

By Marilyn Lester If the coronavirus pandemic has underscored one thing artistically, it’s that CDs have become a lifeline to those starved for stability in the arts. There’s been a steady supply of them, in a familiar format––one unscathed by the lack of live...

CD Reviews: A Broadway Roundup

CD Reviews: A Broadway Roundup

By Marilyn Lester Broadway and other theaters may still be closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the music that represents former glories on their stages keeps coming on strong. The following is worthy of your notice: After being released digitally in August,...

Josie Falbo

Josie Falbo

By Marilyn Lester Chicago-based singer, Josie Falbo, cannot only make you believe in Spring, but in the power of music to uplift, heal and otherwise provide a mountain of pleasure. The diva has been singing since childhood and her skills are well-honed. She has a...

Mandy Barnett – A Nashville Songbook

Mandy Barnett – A Nashville Songbook

By Marilyn Lester A fresh and noteworthy release, A Nashville Songbook, represents the Melody Place label debut of Mandy Barnett, a Nashville-based singer-actress who’s achieved a well-deserved level of popularity in the Music City. Barnett was the original star of...

Kirsten Gustafson – Wait Until Dark

Kirsten Gustafson – Wait Until Dark

CD Review By Marilyn Lester In the years since her first CD in 1991, You Taught My Heart To Sing, Chicago-based Kirsten Gustafson has established herself as a jazz singer of note. Her latest CD, the newly released Wait Until Dark, takes a generous handful of modern...

CD Roundup: A Quartet of Cast Albums

CD Roundup: A Quartet of Cast Albums

    By Marilyn Lester   The second installment of The Michael Friedman Collection, (I Am) Nobody’s Lunch, has been released by Ghostlight Records and The Civilians (of which Friedman was a founding Associate Artist). The new title is available for...

Branden & James Chasing Dreams

Branden & James Chasing Dreams

  By Marilyn Lester The vocal-instrumental duo, Branden & James, have released their debut album, Chasing Dreams, a collection of fastidiously curated tunes high on the gold standard of enjoyment. Branden James, an operatic tenor and James Clark, a virtuoso...

Kim David Smith: Live at Joe’s Pub

Kim David Smith: Live at Joe’s Pub

  By Marilyn Lester   The newly released Kim David Smith: Live at Joe’s Pub, available on digital and streaming platforms, is a fitting tribute to the singer’s devotion to Weimar-era Berlin. It features excellently self-curated selections of numbers...

Melissa Errico Two Spring Songs for Summer

Melissa Errico Two Spring Songs for Summer

  By Marilyn Lester   Tony nominee, actress and singer, Melissa Errico has released two songs, “In honor of the strange, sad but still love-hungry spring of 2020 — which perches on the brink of an open but uncertain summer.” This sentiment is well said of...

Two Songwriter Classics

Two Songwriter Classics

  By Marilyn Lester   Jamie deRoy has long been a champion of songwriters, especially under the aegis of her Jamie deRoy and Friends live and televised programs. In her 2006 CD, If I Sing: The Songwriters Album, she’s chosen the cream of the crop, a baker’s...

 A Broadway Assortment

 A Broadway Assortment

    By Marilyn Lester   The Liz Swados Project (Ghostlight Records) is a new tribute album to the late writer-composer/lyricist-performer whose influential output over decades traversed a wide range of genres. Swados was a creative powerhouse and one of...

Cast Albums Roundup

Cast Albums Roundup

Four Recent Cast Albums   By Marilyn Lester Broadway Bounty Hunter (Ghostlight Records) the Off-Broadway musical co-written by Joe Iconis and Lance Rubin may well be remembered for Iconis’ music and lyrics rather than its offbeat plot about a down-on-her-luck...

Diane Schuur Running on Faith

Diane Schuur Running on Faith

  By Marilyn Lester   It’s been six years since the multi-Grammy Award-winning singer-pianist Diane Schuur released an album (I Remember You: Love to Stan and Frank), and during that time she’s been deeply thinking about the state of the world and her place...

A Pair of Able Gentlemen: Willy Falk & Jeff Macauley

A Pair of Able Gentlemen: Willy Falk & Jeff Macauley

  By Marilyn Lester   Willy Falk: Mostly Love   Following a brilliant 35-year career on Broadway, in concert halls and beyond, actor-singer Willy Falk (Tony nominated for his role as Chris in Miss Saigon) followed his recent solo cabaret debut, Mostly Love,...

CD Reviews: “This Could Be the Start of Something Big”

CD Reviews: “This Could Be the Start of Something Big”

    By Marilyn Lester   I’m happy to announce a new path for Theater Pizzazz: a column that regularly takes an informed look at CD releases with reviews of what’s new in the field. Born of the pandemic, with live performance and the reviewing of same at...

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