By Sandi Durell
Slim and glittery in black sequins, with a mane of silvery white hair, the iconic Judy Collins took the stage at the legendary Café Carlyle to regale her enthusiastic audience of friends and fans with the music that has brought her to the epitome of her career, now 57 years in the making.
Growing up a music prodigy in a house filled with lots of Rodgers and Hammerstein, she made her debut at the age of 10 and it never stopped. Her incredible career has been notable as a musician-singer-songwriter, her soprano voice as crystalline and stunning as ever.
Speaking to her audience as though we were friends sitting together in her living room, her stories abounded, whether it had to do with the recent Pulitzer Prize winning Bob Dylan, whom she met early on as a homeless kid known as Robert Allen Zimmerman, paying homage with “Masters of War” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” (the audience joining in), or the incredible Joni Mitchell – “Both Sides Now,” and more tales of the 60’s sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. She’s a grand storyteller!
But what’s put the celebrated Ms. Collins back on the charts is her liaison with pop baritone Ari Hest, (musician, singer-songwriter) – her first album made with another artist – the release of “Silver Skies Blue;” the title song, the first they wrote together. It’s an amazing compilation of songs, their vocal harmonies blending beautifully; “Strangers Again” a highlight!
As her pianist, Russell Walden, relinquished his seat at the piano, Ms. Collins easily slipped into his place to sing and play some of her (and our) favorites – “The Blizzard,” an always thrilling “Send in the Clowns” eventually encoring with Leonard Cohen’s (who just passed away) “Suzanne.”
She generously thanked everyone at the Carlyle, including staff and acknowledged her hubby Louis Nelson in the audience.
Judy Collins is in the prime of her career and, for fans, this is an opportunity to be part of her luminescent presence that crosses many generations.
Café Carlyle, 35 East 76 Street at Madison Ave. , 212 744-1600 www.TheCarlyle.com thru November 19
Photos: David Andrako