Saturday, December 29, 2012

Maureen McGovern live

And fittingly, to follow up on my Christmas list Countdown:

You will remember that my top choice was the Maureen McGovern Christmas disc. Ironic that here it is 25 years later and this season she is performing it live at 54 Below in NYC. I have always been among her biggest fans. The woman can do more with a single piano and her vocal chords than most could ever aspire to. For our members that are solid jazz singers - Vicky, Arne et al - you should really enjoy this. When we talk the fine line between gigging and intimate, this is what I envision. A stage the size of a postage stamp. No costumes and a few lights. A microphone in hand and an audience in the seats. She still "has it." Wish I was there.

Happy New Year.

Let Me Entertain You!

This would definitely fall under the category of miscellaneous!

One of the things we try to do as cabaret artists is put our own spin on music. Making it hopefully very much our own. At times it may push the envelope too much in the name of indulgence and in those cases, the composer is probably turning over in his grave. This is one of those cases!

It is apparently from Bruce Jay Friedman's off-Broadway play "Steambath" circa the late 1970s. It sounds as if a sort of No Exit where the likes of Bill Bixby and Valerie Perrine are destined to exile in a steambath. Already sounds over the deep end huh? This tele-number was from the network airing and is baffling even 40 years later. I would love to know who the two older character actors are.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

As Frank Loesser would have sung. 

I am passing on this performance possibility from the Chicago postings we get. It is at Davenport's Cabaret and is billing itself as a Resolution Revolution. I think it is the tag line that grabbed me. "What are we going to do now that the Mayans were wrong?! Explore the What Ifs, Will I's and Que Seras at the dawn of a new year". It is featuring Laura Freeman, Heather Currie, Dan Michel, Julia Merchant, Brandon Moorehead, Clyde Allred & Ann McGregor. My cup of tea since New Years is a holiday I love in terms of its original intent. Wiping clean the slate and starting all over again with fresh possibilities. At least for the first week... Happy New year all!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In the Bleak Midwinter

Thanks to fellow member Les, I now have a connection to the NYC cabaret scene at large and am getting announcements from that epicenter of the universe.

Hoping this isn't a trend in what we do - but the NYC Hotline is listing several notable cabaret clubs that are closing shop at the end of the 2012 year. The Razz Room in San Francisco, Feinstein's @ the Regency in NY, and the already departed Algonquin Room are the latest casualties. Hopefully this is only a rollback to economic woes and not a beacon of our future.

All this as we plot to find a permanent home of our own here in the Twin Cities. Please support Jazz Central, Honey, Dr. Chocolate and any of the other small venues we have been lucky enough to use recently.

Christmas Countdown = Finale

This is the Top 3 of my suggested Christmas Cabaret list. There were plenty of offerings that did not make the 12 selected, but that does not make them shortcomings in the least. Natalie Cole, Sheryl Crow & Barry Manilow put it out there in their own way. Even surprises by LeAnn Rimes. And classics like Doris Day & Tony Bennett cannot easily be forgotten as timeless. It just gives me something more to add a year down the road.

3) Kristin Chenoweth - A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas - with her theatrical background, she brings character to everything she sings. A voice instantly recognizable, but also full of surprise just when you think you have her figured out. Her kewpie doll take on Christmas Island is expected. The duet with John Pizzarelli on Marshmallow World is sugar candy. But don't forget her classical training on Do You Heart What I Hear? And the title cut is meant for a fireplace and cocoa. The disc changes gears on every track and makes it hard to get bored.

2) Melissa Manchester - There's Still My Joy - was probably my biggest revelation when I first heard it. I have always enjoyed her, particularly her early work as a singer-songwriter, until she veered into pop princess territory. This is her intact with her best qualities. Smoky, smooth and sultry. I think I fall for it because it sounds as if it was recorded in a living room live. Arrangements are simple and direct; usually only a piano or guitar with an occasional sax or vibes. The title cut by Mellisa & Beth Neilsen Chapman is the most heartbreaking carol one will ever hear about loss and healing during the holidays. Gentle blues and jazz on Please Come Home For Christmas & Christmas Angel. On familiar classics there is comfortable coziness - which is a great thing for a holiday time out.

1) Maureen McGovern - Christmas With Maureen McGovern - like Kristin - her range is all over the place. When you start to wonder why, I guess the answer is "because she can." She swings and scats with ease on new originals (a rarity) like Our First Christmas. Who has ever heard Santa Claus Is Coming to Town in a jazz 9/4? Crazy. A melancholy Toyland with the entire verse? Christmas Eve setting a Robert Frost poem to a simple English Horn - exquisite! And her O Holy Night is a gem that can be easily butchered and she gives it absolutely certainty with a simple cello. The first disc I play every year and the last to put away. Rare if you can find it - I will gladly burn you a copy.