NY Music Review by Susan Hasho
Tuesday, opening night at the Cafe Carlyle, Steve Tyrell had a plan. He wanted everyone to know that there were lyricists who wrote the famous Great American songbook songs, and that most of us had never even heard of them. And being a guy who likes to give people credit, he sang Moonlight “What a little moonlight can do to you,” and talked about the life of Harry Woods, the composer and lyricist. The night was full of songwriters and stories. Gershwin, as a gift, sent Jimmy McCue a piano because down on his luck, he had to sell it. First song he wrote on his new piano was I’m in the Mood for Love—poverty was then a thing of the past. Cole Porter, composer and lyricist went to Yale, most other songwriters didn’t. Frank Sinatra sang 87 Sammy Cahn songs.
But, probably one of the most interesting stories is the story of Steve Tyrell’s own musical career. The Brill Building in New York City in the 1960s was home to a whole generation of music. As a young record producer and the head of the A&R label, Tyrell was instrumental in the careers of Burt Bacharach and Hal David; and has produced hits for scores of major artists like Dionne Warwick, B.J. Thomas, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Aaron Neville, Rod Stewart and Diana Ross. He has gone on to write songs of his own. And now, he is in the middle of a career as a successful singer. He says he has done his life backwards—record producer first and now performer with his own award-winning albums.
He began with the older standards Takin’ a Chance on Love, The Way You Look Tonight, Night and Day and then moved to Sammy Cahn’s Come Fly with Me and It’s Magic. His voice is rich and warm with a hint of Texas; and when beautifully in sync with the arrangement, as in The Look of Love (Bacharach/David), he is thrilling. His band and the arrangements of his music are particularly fine and Tyrell often highlights the musicians: musical director Quinn Johnson (piano), David Finck (bass), Bob Mann (guitar) Kevin Winard (drums) and Jon Allen (keyboards).
Café Carlyle May 6 through May 17 (No Show on May 9) Tuesday to Friday at 8:45pm
Saturday at 8:45pm & 10:45pm. Café Carlyle 35 E. 76th Street, NYC. Reservations can be made at www.thecarlyle.com or by phone at 212-744-1600.