NY Cabaret Review Sandi Durell
Have I mentioned Marilyn Maye before? Oh, yes, of course . . . dozens of times and I never tire of it. When the marvelous Marilyn Maye says “at this age I can do anything I want,” she means it and can and does. Walking out on stage to thunderous applause is nothing new, as she debuts at Birdland for five nights, her fans and friends always excited to hear what this Queen of jazz storytelling and always humorous quips will offer up.
For Ms. Maye it’s always party time, opening with a medley of tunes that show her love and appreciation (Today I Love Everybody, I Happen to Like New York) and offering up some Fats Waller songs, perfect for this venue, like “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “ and, as double an entendre as you could imagine, “Honeysuckle Rose.”
She’s hot, smoky, breathy, powerful (and I could go on with more adjectives but . . .) as she turns those phrases and lyrics as if you’re hearing them for the very first time; her inflections expressing volumes.
Songs like “Autumn Leaves,” “When October Goes” and “Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe” are stunning reminders of her own special genius, as she pours her heart and soul into every word.
And she can scat too, as easily evidenced in a My Fair Lady medley and in particular “On The Street Where You Live” – I wanna be here, I wanna be there . . . I guess it’s redundant to say but, in all honesty, I wanna be anywhere with Marilyn Maye!
Yes, we’ve heard many of these songs from Marilyn’s long standing repertoire, but each time is like the first time. She’s hip and hep and other cool words and remains the first lady of the Great American Songbook leaving her audience totally exhausted by her unending energy and high kicks that punctuate the conclusion of each of her shows. Roll the rug out, “It’s Today” with Marilyn Maye! And you don’t want to miss her. Even Billie Jean King put down her racquet to be at opening night!
She’s got the cream of the crop backing her up: the one and only Tedd Firth piano/musical director/arranger, Tom Hubbard bass and Jim Eklof on drums.
Video: Magda Katz / Photos other than one by Kevin Alvey are by Magda Katz
Marilyn Maye appears at Birdland September 10, 11, 12, 13 at 7 p.m.
Doors open 6 p.m. 315 West 44 St., NYC (check back later for more photos and live video)