By Sandi Durell . . .
The undisputed Queen of Cabaret has landed, once again, at her favorite jazz spot . . . Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center. The sparkling Ms. Maye, dressed in a red sequin embossed jacket with black sequin pants, looked her usual stunning self.
Her choice of musical gems is endless and with that special twinkle in her eye letting us know she’s in her happiest of places, her parody “Jingle Bells” (James Lord Pierpont) set the tone for the holiday season melding into a fast swinging “The Song Is You (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein) to the more contemporary “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (Bob Crewe/Bob Gaudio) moving along to “That Face” (Bergman/Spence) and famous Smile Medley . . . where her voice moves so effortlessly in and thru notes that make your heart skip a beat. Yup . . . she has “The World on a String” (Arlen/Koehler).
A little personal history about Kansas City and she’s “On The Street Where You Live” (Lowe/Lerner) with a special jazz arrangement (and scat too!) that literally knocks your socks off made only more spectacular with master of the keys Tedd Firth on piano, Tom Kennedy on bass and the grooving spark of Mark McLean on drums.
With a backstory from Tedd about Lionel Hampton’s “Midnight Sun” that came alive when Johnny Mercer heard it over the air, called the radio station to get the scoop and wound up writing the lyrics – – the poetic vocal version by Ms. Maye was one of the evening’s highlights.
It’s not happenstance that we gravitate to Marilyn Maye whenever, wherever she may be performing. She’s one of the great vocal storytellers, with fine acting skills, that bring us into her world and hold us in her grasp until she’s ready to let go.
What would an evening be without a Fats Waller Medley . . . “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” / “Ain’t Misbehavin’ and “Honeysuckle Rose” giving our Ms. Marilyn an opportunity to show off her sassy, double entendre side! Yes, she covers all the great jazz influencers including Ellington – “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” / Satin Doll.”
As always, the evening was coming to a close much to quickly with Frank Loesser’s “Luck Be a Lady,” from Ms. Maye’s favorite Broadway show Guys and Dolls when she suddenly recalled a song she loves singing and, without skipping a beat, she and Tedd were into a highly emotional “Joey” from Most Happy Fella.
The poignant, heartfelt lyrics of “I Believe” segued into some holiday favorites and an upbeat “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (with audience participation) leaving us with her signature mantra “It’s Today’ (Jerry Herman).
Marilyn Maye is doing two shows a night at Dizzy’s thru December 18 (and she said she’d do four!) @ 7:30 and 9:30 pm – Dizzy’s Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center Tickets: https://2022.jazz.org/dizzy’s-club/tickets
Photos: Magda Katz