Ronny Whyte CD Release Nevertheless (Songs of Burt Kalmar and Harry Ruby)


Cabaret Review by Alix Cohen


Descriptive words evoked when writing about Ronny Whyte speak of another era: stylish, urbane, brio, finesse …The artist embodies an approach to both music and performance which is, alas, rare these days. It’s said of Comden and Green that they stuck with their mutual belief that it’s dangerous to change with the times. Whyte’s elegant swing and unfussy melancholy are signature. Without being cavalier, he plays the heart of the matter-which never gets old.

A head bobbing “Give Me the Simple Life” -sung smiling, is followed by the lilting “Nevertheless.” Dusted with brushes, caressed by Warren Vache’s muted cornet, the number conjures a slow dance where the couple barely moves. “Thinking of You,” sung by Arlene Dahl in The Five O’Clock Girl, introduces light, Latin percussion. Vocals emerge like deft brush strokes, at first firm, then tapering off.

Kalmar, Ruby and Oscar Hammerstein’s “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” is dreamy. Whyte does meditative romance well. An unusually mellow Dorothy Parker is revealed with “I Wished on the Moon” (Ralph Rainger, music) from The Big Broadcast of 1936. Piano embellishment skylarks. Whyte’s facial expression is infectious. Frisky without a mute, Vache’s music twirls. The artist is precise without ever becoming hard-edged.

Whyte’s own “You Can’t Have It All” (Frank Grant, music) is performed as if with a shrug and raised eyebrow, Gene Kelly dancing with his hands in his pockets. It’s a nifty song with straight from the hip lyrics: People say you can’t have it all/You can’t have it all without dropping the ball…But I do/I have you… Vache cuts his own path around the melody, sashaying out.

An excellent rendition of the wise, sensitive “Bittersweet” (Billy Strayhorn/Roger Schore) is to me this evening’s highlight. Delicate piano and horn buoy hushed vocal phrasing as natural as train of thought.

My single reservation rests in a version of “Three Little Words” whose simple lyrics are enmeshed in the most instrumentally textured arrangement of the evening. Though filled with gleeful bounce and nimble-fingered execution, I find the arrangement overpowers the song’s spirit.

Informed by tradition, realized with seasoned skill, and colored by good taste, Whyte’s seemingly effortless music is ever engaging.

The exclusively Kalmar & Ruby CD adds Lou Caputo-Reeds and Ben Sher- Guitar to this accomplished group. Reeds and Cornet are especially fine on appealing arrangements of “Who’s Sorry Now?,” “My Sunny Tennessee.” and “Take Me to the Land of Jazz.”

A note of appreciation and gratitude goes out to one of the best run rooms in the city which respects and protects its talent.

Ronny Whyte CD Release Nevertheless (Songs of Burt Kalmar and Harry Ruby)

Ronny Whyte-Piano/Vocals

Warren Vache-Coronet, Boots Maleson-Bass, David Stillman-Drums

Kitano 66 Park Avenue at 38th St.

September 27, 2014