Evening #3 at the Cabaret Convention
by: Alix Cohen
Richard Rodgers and Lorenz (Larry) Hart worked together on 28 stage musicals and more than 500 songs, from a 1919 Columbia University amateur show (they were respectively 16 and 23) until Hart’s death in 1943. Songs were in many ways more sophisticated, as well as less corny and optimistic than Broadway that preceded them. Their oeuvre has always been a favorite of vocalists.
Another Cabaret Convention, another beautifully mounted evening by the elegant and eloquent Jeff Harnar and Andrea Marcovicci who affectionately share the stage as if they’d partnered for years. Marcovicci opened with a compelling “Where or When,” after which the duo gave us a jaunty “Thou Swell,” showcasing two of the writers’ ever present moods.
Marcovicci’s Birthday Bash at Joe’s Pub November 18.
Harnar at 54Below November 21
Later, Marcovicci ‘s “Everything I’ve Got Belongs to You” made us believe she’d give us the shirt off her back as she flirted with audience members. Shelly Markham, piano. And Harnar’s “Manhattan” epitomized what’s stylish and classic in the genre with the naturalness of the dinner jacket he wore like second skin. A great arrangement. James Fallowell, piano
It was a gourmet (though not pretentious) meal of material featuring resonant interpretations. With respectful admiration of terrific vocalists, this evening also spot-lit some of our best arrangers to whom kudos are due. Professionals know how much they owe these talented individuals, but audiences often register only the end result. An abundance of originality and skill made itself known here. I’ve called out a few creators.
Highlights in my book:
Amanda McBroom “didn’t know about Rodgers & Hart till I was 9 when I heard this song.” Her subdued, but expressively potent “Ten Cents a Dance” personified the beaten down survivor with sore feet and runs in her hose. McBroom is a meticulous artist. This rose from the heart and guts. There was nothing showy about her heroine, nothing to catch a restless eye, just truth. Alex Rybeck, piano.
Eric Michael Gillett mastered the vocally difficult “Careless Rhapsody,” an embroidered, lace valentine, followed by a cool, swingy, wonderfully bass-centric “You Took Advantage of Me.” The latter was bemused in Hart’s signature urbane fashion. It’s a pleasure to see Gillett on the Convention stage participating in the genre to which he’s so long been a major contributor. Don Rebic-musical director/enunciated piano. Dick Sarpola-bass. Jonathan Kantor-clarinet, saxophone.
Karen Akers rendered two splendidly arranged (Don Rebic/Eric Michael Gillett) numbers: “This Funny World” and “I Wish I Were In Love Again.” I thought I heard the faint strains of a calliope in the first. Both were made richer by the lady’s life experience which she effectively communicates with grace and laid bare emotion. Don Rebic, piano
Liz Callaway reaffirmed broad range with a breathtaking “My Funny Valentine” which seemed to sail on air and “Johnny One Note” (of her repertoire) wherein unleashed notes reflected not a single raw edge or a second of anything less than authoritive skill. Chills ran up one’s spine. And she makes it look so easy. Alex Rybeck, piano
Christine Andreas enacted “To Keep My Love Alive” (of her repertoire) with, I think, even more musical comedy character than previously-undoubtedly due partly to what seems a reconfigured arrangement. She’s honed the number to its comic best.“My Heart Stood Still,” which followed, was exulted in feeling, exhibiting the artistry of a pristine voice. Marty Silvestri, piano.
Todd Murray sang a simply lovely version of “Spring Is Here,” his muted baritone effecting just a bit of textural frisson. It was as if the lyrics sighed. The inclusion of Sharon Mo’s French horn added a haunting undertone. Murray also did a snappy duet of “Mountain Greenery” with Christine Andreas. The two bounced off one another with infectious enjoyment in perfect musical sync. Alex Rybeck, piano.
The inimitable Steve Ross was able to use the word efflorescence (“to flower out”) –a long time aspiration, in describing the evening. His tandem “If You Asked Me I Could Write a Book” and “Lover” were respectively, subtly credible and zealously waltzy. Ross ended this evening, the olive in one’s martini, the foie in one’s gras, an exceptional standard bearer.
Also featuring: Clint Holmes with Christan Tambor’s excellent xylophone currently at Café Carlyle, Lauren Fox whose abilities continue to grow, Joyce Breach in jazz mode at Kitano on October 11, Anna Bergman’s soprano brightens the stage at Café Sabarsky in March, the sophisticated Iris Williams at The Metropolitan Room October 20
*Photos: Maryann Lopinto
Falling in Love With Love: The Songs of Rodgers & Hart
Hosted by Jeff Harnar & Andrea Marcovicci
Jared Egan-bass, Sherrie Maricle-percussion
The Mabel Mercer Foundation 24th New York Cabaret Convention
Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater
October 9, 2013