by Marilyn Lester
It’s been a year for centenaries – Billy Strayhorn, Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf, and Muddy Waters, to name a few. But it’s Frank Sinatra who’s been top dog among the fêted, and who is the focal point of Steve Tyrell’s 11th holiday residency at the Café Carlyle. One More for the Road is an all-Sinatra show spiced with great stories told from a very personal point of view; Tyrell knew Sinatra and counts the Sinatra clan as close friends.
The opening number, “All of Me,” introduced Tyrell as the finger-snapping “Vegas Sinatra,” in an upbeat, lounge-type arrangement. Yet, Frank Sinatra had a 60-year career covering a range of material sung in a variety of styles. Tyrell wisely moved on to capture the gamut of Sinatra, while sticking to the familiar, tried and true numbers of the American Songbook. These included songs such as the now Sinatra-iconic “I Get a Kick Out of You“ and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” On a personal note, Tyrell performed “The Way You Look Tonight,” the number he sang in the 1991 film, Father of the Bride, which shifted his career from the music business to performing.
Tyrell was backed by a sharp sextet of cats with a big-band sound. Music Director-pianist, Quinn Johnson, David Finck on upright bass, Kevin Winard on drums, Bob Mann on guitar, Jon Allen on keyboards, and David Mann on tenor sax and flute, proved to have solid chops, especially in the jazz-oriented arrangements. Tyrell and the band swung it on “Fly Me to the Moon,” The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else),” “(Love Is) The Tender Trap,” and a rousing closer, “Come Fly With Me.” David Mann’s saxophone was especially effective on “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” Nevertheless I’m In Love With You,” and “All the Way.”
Tyrell is a crowd pleaser who’s garnered a devoted following. He’s the kind of performer with big energy and a confident ease that fills the room. His ability to connect with the audience is intimate and friendly. He invites you into his privileged world with his “I was there” stories, with a wink and a nod of the hail fellow well met. Oozing with special Tyrell charm were “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” and “Nice N’ Easy.” A piano-only rendition, with the house lights down low, of “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)” was an atmospheric and sensitive “sad saloon song.”
At 70, Tyrell’s growly Texas-suffused voice is probably in better shape now than ever before. He sings to please, and if the execution is light on emotional impact, Tyrell’s phrasing (plus very good material) make for a polished, not unpleasing delivery. The set list of One More For the Road is balanced and the show well-varied in musical styles and tempos. Steve Tyrell is a natural performer who believes in the material, and who will send you out into the night happy you were there.
Photos: David Andrako
Through January 2, 2016 (No show on December 25), Tuesday through Friday at 8:45 p.m. and Saturdays at 8:45 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. (No Late Show on January 1 and 2)
Café Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street, 212-744-1600, www.thecarlyle.com