Marilyn Maye



By Sandi Durell

(July 23, 2018)


The newly opened Birdland Theater is now home to an array of talent. First, BIG thank you Gianni Valenti for the long awaited state of the art space that is right below the upstairs historic Birdland. The sound, lights, architectural layout is genius – a gift to any performer. And what performer can grab an audience like the one and only marvelous Marilyn Maye!

Her excitement taking the stage at this new venue couldn’t be ignored opening with Cole Porter’s “I Happen to Like New York” segueing into Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” in a New York song fest that included Cy Coleman’s “My Personal Property” punctuating the fact that there was no doubt that the town was hers, as was everyone in the audience. Why this impeccable jazz songstress worries whether there will be an audience is beyond anyone’s comprehension. But so she admits.

To christen her new home, the queen of parodies wrote some memorable lyrics to Lionel Hampton’s “Lullaby of Birdland” that hit the bell. How do I know? Because the owner was sitting nearby smiling away.

With her band of renown – the masterful Tedd Firth on piano, the nimble fingered Tom Hubbard on bass and the subtle Daniel Glass on drums – Miss Maye launched into a Duke Ellington medley (“Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Satin Doll”) and, as always, putting her own distinctive spin on each.

The phenomenon called Marilyn Maye is hearing a song you’ve heard dozens of times but as if it were the first time. Her intelligent storytelling of a lyric gives real and precise meaning as she literally blows you away with a standard like Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer’s “Come Rain or Come Shine” . . . not to mention the extraordinary powerhouse high notes that ring clear during the course of the almost 90 minute show!

Favorites like “Golden Rainbow” – always prove a crowd pleaser.

When she was recording for RCA in the 60s, she came into town to see her first Broadway show, My Fair Lady, which had quite an impact, enough to arrange a medley of tunes that cover the gamut from swing to ballad, always surprising her audience with unexpected rhythms unique in their interpretations, each exciting to the ear . . . “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On The Street Where You Live.” And a fun-filled parody in double time to “I’m Getting Married in the Morning.” What a treat!

Move over Bette and Bernadette . . . cause here comes Marilyn with her more than remarkable “Hello, Dolly!” as she launches into “It Only Takes A Moment,” Before the Parade Passes By” and a more personalized “Elegance” – and carry it off she does, without a hitch! No doubt this lady is ready for 8 shows a week, having already played the role nationwide.

A poignant, heart -rending rendition of Frank Loesser’s “Joey Joey Joey” knocked everyone out for the count as the audience jumped to their feet in cheers and unending applause (which occurred several times during the evening).


The writer and Marilyn Maye


An elated audience greeted Ms. Maye after the show. This first week she continues with the Tedd Firth band July 25 thru 28 and again July 31 thru August 4 with Billy Stritch leading the band.

Birdland Theater offers it’s own well-priced menu that features a variety of choices, and I can personally say, delicious!

I cannot stress enough the fact that this is probably the best Marilyn Maye performance you will see. To miss her would be . . . well, a tragedy!

Photos by Kevin Alvey


Birdland Jazz, 315 West 44 Street, NYC July 25 – 28, July 31 – Aug. 4