By Sandi Durell
It’s a BIG thank you, yes it is, at Feinstein’s/54 Below – and it goes round and round. From Marvelous Marilyn Maye to her friends and fans and from all of us back at ya, Ms. Maye!
Once again, we’re left breathless by this sizzling, hard hitting jazz-bird for whom there are no limits. She’s sassy, brassy and, as always, when in her presence, it’s just one on-going party of joyful fabulous songs done her way. Some are tried and true old friends, and we wouldn’t have it any other way . . . “Face Smile Medley” – “Golden Rainbow” – or spirited away to jazz heaven in a “My Fair Lady Medley” to then be sprinkled with a seasonal pageant of grace and grateful “Count Your Blessings”/”A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”/”Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams,” each calculated to move and build in different directions, from ballad, to swing to rhumba-bossa beats. That’s the classic beauty of one so experienced and knowledgeable, as Ms. Maye takes her audience on a rhythmic roller coaster ride. She is, after all, the ultimate storyteller.
And when she wants reaction, well, no subtleties . . . she just directs her audience and gets exactly what she wants . . . like the lyrics to “Food Glorious Food” – they went awry but it’s always charming and fun-filled watching her retrieve anything lost.
We never tire listening to Marilyn Maye’s life on the fast track from the time she was a young singer; that big moment landing the Lincoln-Mercury car commercial that paid a lot of bills (and a new car in her garage) . . . “will everyone here kindly step to the rear and let a winner lead the way . . .” and forever grateful to the wonderful Steve Allen for his help as a springboard who launched her career.
One of my favorites (and hers) is “Here’s That Rainy Day” intertwined with “Stormy Weather;” really raises the emotional bar.
Seasonal additions include “I Believe”/”Santa Claus”/Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and a pride filled raising of the spirits “What a Wonderful World”/”America The Beautiful”/ “God Bless America” . . . so very much needed at this time of confusion.
Of course, we never want Marilyn Maye to leave that stage and could listen to her endlessly. She’s a powerful figure at 90 ½, better, stronger more resilient and a priceless gift. But, alas, after 80 + minutes accompanied by the one and only Tedd Firth musical director on piano, together with Tom Hubbard on bass and Daniel Glass on drums, it’s time to say good-night only to know that for the next several nights, one can always return to the brilliance and extraordinary style of this one-of-kind icon at 54 Below.
Oh, and guess who came to see Ms. Maye last night? Scarlett Johansson and her mom.
Photos: Kevin Alvey
Video: Magda Katz
Marilyn Maye – Feinstein’s/54 Below – 254 West 54 St., (cellar) NYC
November 18 thru 24, 7 pm