By Brian Scott Lipton
There was plenty of cause for celebration – both on the stage and in the audience of Zankel Hall – as Michael Feinstein devoted the latest installment of his beloved “Standard Time” series to celebrate the 100th anniversary of ASCAP, the worthy organization devoted to making sure songwriters get fairly paid for their work. Not only was Feinstein in particularly fine (and unusually funny) form, but the appearances of three previously announced and one surprise guest star added great luster to the evening.
Songwriter Siedah Garrett delighted the crowd with the infectious Motown classic “My Guy,” before delivering a passionate version of her own mega-hit “Man in the Mirror” (made famous by Michael Jackson); the brilliant Broadway singer Liz Callaway was in tip-top form as she paid tribute to two recently deceased ASCAP members with her sterling renditions of Albert Hammond and Hal David’s “99 Miles to L.A.” and Marvin Hamlisch and Ed Kleban’s “The Music and the Mirror” (from “A Chorus Line”), and songwriter and ASCAP Board member Jimmy Webb thrilled the throng as he performed two of his landmark hits: “Didn’t We” and “Macarthur Park”.
As always, Feinstein delivered the goods, both by providing some valuable history about the founding of ASCAP and offering up some of his favorite tunes from his vast repertoire (all penned by ASCAP members), such as a gorgeous “Without a Song,” a swinging “Come Fly With Me,” a deeply felt “I Won’t Send Roses,” and, of course, a beautiful medley of songs by his heroes, George and Ira Gershwin, including “Isn’t It A Pity,” “Embraceable You,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and “Our Love Is Here to Stay.”
Still, the show’s unequivocal highlight came at the very end of the concert, as Feinstein unexpectedly called up best pal Liza Minnelli from the audience! And within seconds, Liza, looking just fit and fine and sounding great, teamed with Feinstein for a dazzling duet of “I Love a Violin,” a little-known if truly joyous number penned by Liza’s godmother, the late, great Kay Thompson. Now, that’s how you end a perfect party!