By Marcina Zaccaria . . . 

Birdland celebrates Valentine’s Day month with jazz favorites. On February 4, Eric Comstock sat at the piano near trusty bassist Sean Smith on a musical journey of the American Songbook past Tin Pan Alley, following the Road to Romance.

The show began promptly at 5:30 PM at Birdland. Making a few jokes about “getting beyond the carbon neutral stage,” Eric Comstock recognized the frigid air, before presenting jazz favorites, Hollywood classics, and great Broadway show tunes. Offering an invitation to relax, he brought a big smile and a sometimes raspy tone to the microphone, introducing each tune to the cabaret, full of tourists and NYC locals. Among some of the favorites of the evening were Betty Comden and Adolf Green with songs from “On the Town.” Light and up-tempo, Comstock honored great writers and lyricists, a few of whom made it to Birdland to be recognized by the musical team that included his wife, Barbara Fasano.

Barbara Fasano sounded bittersweet and full of emotion, with a twinge of sorrow that might never be confused with a withering of spirit. She sang a song by Paul Simon and made mention of her Carnegie Hall show. Not afraid to talk about her pasta dishes or her love of Broadway show tunes, her appearance was a breath of fresh air. She met Eric Comstock on Nat King Cole’s birthday and said this was their 18th anniversary. Singing “Blue Skies” (Irving Berlin), she found a welcome home on the Birdland stage. In a fresh, savvy and solid performance and sporting a brightly colored red, green, and pink shirt, her moment-to-moment phrasing didn’t negate her all-knowing, commercial sound. Fasano drew us into a story of mystery and discovery, asking “who’s that girl” before leaning into the clever accompaniment provided by her husband.

Eric Comstock followed with a chat about Walt Whitman before introducing some sounds about the streets of New York. Alive with the love of song, their mastery of the great musical literature flies past you, never weighing too heavily or demanding their listener go back to music school lest you miss the joy of performance.

Promptly sending us on our way at 7:00 PM, give or take a moment for Wi-Fi glitches, this breezy evening at Birdland proved to be a great night at the cabaret. 

Eric Comstock with Sean Smith and special guest Barbara Fasano will play again on Saturday, February 11 at 5:30 PM at Birdland (315 West 44th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues). 

Photos: Stephen Mosher