Claire Martin & Richard Rodney Bennett - Live Review - The New York Observer
08 June 2011The New York Observer
The New York cabaret season is humming to
a close, but before waxing that bikini line and heading for the beach, take
note: The big rooms are saving the best for last.
finale for the Algonquin's august Oak Room season features music so sublime it
must not be missed. A whole night of Irving Berlin, sung to perfection by
England's best young jazz singer, Claire Martin, accompanied by the
incomparable, knowledgeable and knighted Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. Ms. Martin
looks, at some angles, like Jodie Foster, and when she stamps gorgeous movie
songs like "Better Luck Next Time" (from Easter Parade) and "Love, You
Didn't Do Right by Me" (from White Christmas) with her own special
patina, you know she's on friendly terms with the cinema. Berlin wrote 15,000
songs in his salad days, so you can do only so much in a one-hour cabaret show.
But when this dazzling Dreamsicle covers the territory, it stays covered.
course, it wouldn't be Berlin without celebrating his favorite singer, Fred
Astaire-their careers were so intrinsically linked. Sometimes Mr. Bennett joins
Ms. Martin in inspired duets like "Let's Face the Music and Dance" and "Let
Yourself Go," sounding like two Astaires instead of one. They both love to
explore seldom-heard songs off the beaten track. From the Broadway show Louisiana
Purchase, Ms. Martin breathes fresh oxygen into the obscure but haunting
"Fools Fall in Love," and on an old Alice Faye favorite, "He Ain't Got Rhythm,"
Mr. Bennett really hits his stride. With his conversational reading of "Say It
Isn't So," he reaches the apex of his own musical imagination, and his
arrangement of "What'll I Do?" builds a rueful introspection for Ms. Martin's
voice to bask in. What a great way to wind up the season. They are to songs
what sugar and cream are to coffee. With Claire Martin, Richard Rodney Bennett
and Irving Berlin, sophistication is guaranteed. The burnished wood under the
muted lights of the Oak Room glows as much as the audience.
Related LinksClaire MartinRichard Rodney BennettWitchcraft