announcing our new series for the 92nd Street Y (92Y)
Will Friedwald’s Clip Joint: Scenes from the American Songbook
In this new series, Will Friedwald (feature writer for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and the author of nine books on popular music) presents curated video clips from his extensive vintage collection to illustrate the great artistry of the performers and composers of the American Songbook. The presentations will be driven both by a profundity of rare and fascinating video footage, nearly all of which hasn’t been seen publicly in decades (not available on home video or youTube) and his own incisive commentary. Many shows will feature unique guest stars as well.
92Y (1395 Lexington Avenue) on Tuesday May 23, 12 pm
CELEBRATING SHELDON HARNICK
"DUELING FIDDLERS" aka
"THE FIDDLER MIXTAPE""
Demonstrating the universal appeal of one of the iconic works of the American Musical Theater, here is a video compendium of rare and unusual performances of classic songs from the score of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, as performed by a breathtakingly wide variety of artists from LOUIS ARMSTRONG to THE TEMPTATIONS to BING CROSBY to AL HIRT to the BAJA MARIMBA BAND to rare footage of the original cast, including ZERO MOSTEL & HARRY GOZ!
Future historians will remember 2017 as the year of the centennial.
In jazz alone there’s Dizzy Gillespie (October 31), Thelonious Monk (October 10), and Buddy Rich (September 30), whose 100th birthdays will continue to be celebrated in every village and hamlet. But make no mistake, the big one is that of Ella Fitzgerald, who would have turned 100 on April 25.
Fitzgerald’s legacy is vast and affects many different areas of music, and touches on questions that are still being asked: What is the place of the human voice in jazz? How do we define the Great American Songbook? And exactly what is the difference between a jazz singer and a pop singer? It’s because of the capaciousness of her contribution to music that we need as many centennial events as possible.
Few contemporary singer-entertainers are as well equipped to address the amazing legacy of Ella Fitzgerald as Ann Hampton Callaway, who combines a lovely honey-tinged contralto with the improvisatory skills of a master jazz musician. (Her centennial salute to the First Lady of song is additionally empowered by the piano work of Matt Baker, himself an acolyte of Oscar Peterson, who, among many other things, was Fitzgerald’s most famous keyboard collaborator.) In song and anecdote, she guides us through the broad outlines of one of the most remarkable careers in music, from Fitzgerald’s dysfunctional childhood to her big band breakthrough and, ultimately, her glory years as one of the definitive singers of what she helped establish as the Great American Songbook. Because Fitzgerald was also an outstanding duet partner, Miss Callaway takes the opportunity to cross cadenzas with her sidemen, singing “Moonlight in Vermont” (in honor of Fitzgerald’s TV appearances with Frank Sinatra) with Mr. Baker and “A Fine Romance” (a la her classic albums with Louis Armstrong) with trumpeter Benny Benack. From the opening “Oh, Lady Be Good” to the encore of “Mack the Knife” (recalling Fitzgerald’s masterpiece concert album from Berlin, 1960) this is as fine an Ella-Bration as we are likely to get in this centennial year.
Wednesday, April 12, and Tuesday April 18 through Sunday April 23
89 is a heck of an age to be learning new songs, and one’s 89th birthday is an equally unlikely moment to debut a whole new show filled with songs that we haven’t heard from her in a while. (Such as “No Bad News” from “The Wiz,” now that caught me off guard.) A goodly share of the storied singer’s latest set is devoted to bittersweet reflective arias about growing older, like “When the World Was Young” and “I’m Still Here” – although she was wise to leave out “Here’s to Life” this time around. This particular edition of the Maye show is also filled with heavier-than-usual ballads (“God Bless the Child,” “Fifty Percent,” “Joey Joey Joey” and a Comden and Green medley of “Some Other Time” and “The Party’s Over”) but she’s not neglecting such perennial signature songs as her characteristically brash opener “It’s Today” and such intensely narrative driven set-pieces as “Guess Who I Saw Today.” Her Monday evening opening on the actually birthday was, expectedly, full of outsized emotion and standing ovations (not to mention cake), but Miss Maye always incites an overwhelming reaction.
On recordings and even her videos (which, as she says, rather immodestly albeit truthfully, “broke the internet”) super soprano Jackie Evancho always seems more like a supernatural presence than a flesh-and-blood performer; that peerlessly-perfect voice would sound amazing coming from anyone, let alone someone who only turned 17 a few days ago. (Yes, I know, we all have credit card debt older than that.) But the great thing about experiencing Miss Evancho in person is the reminder of her reality, and that this superhuman voice is housed in the person of someone relatively inexperienced in terms of relating to an audience and especially in a New York nightclub. (It will be years, if ever, before she can connect with a crowd like, for instance, Marilyn Maye.) The main thing we learn from her patter is that she has had very little experience in life other than appearing on talent competitions, both locally in her native Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and on national TV.
She appeals to a wide range of people who can generally agree on few things (besides Ms. Evancho’s obvious talent): her pride in having sung at the Presidential Inaugural Gala three months ago is not likely to be applauded by the same folks who will cheer for her support of transgender rights. She covers a lot of bases musically as well: even though she tells us this is probably the first time a song by Coldplay (“Viva La Vida”) has been heard in the Carlyle, it’s also the first time that I can remember hearing Puccini (“Nessun Dorma” from “Turandot”) here. Her rendition of “Music of the Night” is especially moving; for the first time the Lloyd-Webber song is something more to me than an show-stopper for a creepy baritone in a Halloween mask. She’s the kind of performer that immediately inspires one to start compiling one’s own request playlist – mine includes both “The Bell Song” from “Lakmé” and “Creole Love Call ”by Duke Ellington. Hearing Jackie Evancho in such an intimate space is a rare chance to experience perfection at close proximity.
from our good friends at the
HOT JAZZ CAMP!
Reprinted through the courtesy of Mr. Joe Lang and in deference to Mr. Dan Morgenstern & Mr. Ricky Riccardi.
"And that is the end of the news." (Noel Coward, SIGH NO MORE)