Monday, November 2, 2015

This Is Cabaret

Ann Hampton Callaway continues to be one of the biggest advocates for our genre. In an age when we are not sure what constitutes "cabaret" - is it Broadway casts singing show tunes in tony bars, is it jazz singers sampling the American Songbook in dark and sultry clubs? Ann seems to be the one heir to the cabaret diva legacies of Julie Wilson and Mabel Mercer. I think we would all agree she brings an intimate story and a warm voice to anything she does beside her string of recordings and Broadway shows.

So it is with great anticipation that NPR is producing a new program of her live gigs at Birdland with a select roster of other talent that certainly fills the cabaret bill. Callaway’s stated goal is to present “cabaret as an emotionally engaging experience rather than a place.” She intends to use the emotional power of her guest artists and the heartfelt qualities of the music itself to accomplish this. The show will cover the panoply of American musical genres: jazz, Broadway, folk, blues…you name it. Shows have already been taped for release come January. Her first guest was the lovely Christine Ebersole who has won fans with a resume of Broadway roles, but is really an engaging cabaret spirit in the best sense. There is banter, witty repartee and even a few duets. Guest number two was Curtis Stigers, vocalist and sax man, who comes from a much different world of the music spectrum. But somehow the two found a mutual ground between musicianship and artistry. Ann seems to bring out the best qualities in all around her. I checked the NPR website, but do not see an actual date for the broadcasts posted yet, but will try to be mindful and give you a heads up with advance warning in the New Year.

 Ann Hampton Callaway

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