By: Sandi Durell
The Iridium Jazz Club was packed to the rafters on September 17th with friends, family and fans of the man who wrote some of the greatest hits in the American Songbook – ERVIN DRAKE. The evening was conceived and presented by Scott Barbarino (ScoBar Entertainment) on behalf of the Iridium. On hand was the Barry Levitt Trio backing up the all-star cast of performers.
Mr. Drake was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1983. He and his gorgeous wife, Edith, beamed throughout the evening as one song after another was sung by some of the best of Broadway and Cabaret. Ervin is still a very dapper young 94 year old with a twinkle in his eye. It was that twinkle that attracted the beautiful Edith (now 91) many years back. But that’s a whole other story!
Opening the evening was impresario Scott Siegel as he introduced Ervin’s granddaughter, Nina Berman, who sang “I Believe,” her lovely soprano soaring.
The always witty Richard Skipper told a backstory of how he met Ervin (who hung up on him the first time) but wound up writing special lyrics to “Widow’s Weeds,” which were originally written for Carol Channing.
Joyce Breach sang “The Friendliest Thing Two People Can Do” from Mr. Drake’s Broadway show “What Makes Sammy Run?” Ricky Ritzel sat down at the piano to present two songs from “Her First Roman,” and Gary Crawford sang “A Room Without Windows,” originally recorded by Steve Lawrence.
“Perdidto” was given a jazz twist by Kat Gang and Jeff Harnar presented the inspirational “One God.” “Al Di La” was sung both in English and Italian by the glorious voiced Sal Viviano and the Crown Prince of Cabaret, Steve Ross, performed “Just For Today” from Her First Roman. Dana Lorge & Warren Schein were The Cugats as they performed “Quando, Quando.”
After Wall Street Journal’s Will Friedwald spoke, Hilary Kole brought a new sensual perspective to Ervin Drake’s hit “Good Morning, Heartache” (soon to be sung by Dee Dee Bridgewater in the off Broadway production of Lady Day). KT Sullivan cuckooed delightfully with “Tico TIco” and sister Stacy Sullivan sang a newly penned ballad “In the Afternoon.”
Everyone’s beloved Sidney Myer brought lots of laughs with “I Wuv A Whabbit” and Ron Raines brought the performance part of the evening to a close with the Frank Sinatra hit “It Was A Very Good Year.”
Yes, it’s been very good years listening to the magical songs written by Ervin Drake and getting to know this exquisite couple. We wish Edith and Ervin many more very good years!
Photos: Russ Weatherford