Marilyn Maye’s in Love in Feinstein’s Debut
By Ellis Nassour
Grammy nom, legendary RCA recording artist, and the artist dubbed "Super Singer" by Johnny Carson [in her 75 + appearances on the Tonight Show] Marilyn Maye continues her conquering of the New York music scene at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, where she opens on March 2 with a new show, In Love Again, through March 13.
Among her numerous RCA hits were "Cabaret," released in advance of the Broadway musical; How Now, Dow Jones’s "Step to the Rear," by Carolyn Leigh and Elmer Bernstein which she performed four years on Lincoln Mercury commercials; Lerner and Lane’s "Too Late Now," chosen by the Smithsonian for inclusion in its 20th Century permanent collection;and, "probably my most requested songs," Grand and Boyd’s torch "Guess Who I Saw Today" from the revue New Faces of 1952.
Ella Fitzgerald called her "the greatest white female singer in the world." New York cabaret aficionados have come to regard Miss Maybe as a national treasure. Now in her 80s, she has the stamina and the crystal vocal pipes of someone half her age. Onstage, she manages to run the gamut of super elegant to super fun
"This will mark my 14th engagement in New York since 2006," points out Miss Maye, "not including the five appearances for the Mabel Mercer Foundation and cabaret award programs. It’s going to be most exciting to spend two weeks singing in that lovely room on Park Avenue.
" She brags that New York audiences are the best. "They understand the work. They get it. They know that what I do isn’t easy, that it’s carefully planned and then honed through the years. The approval, respect, and recognition I’ve received at the Metropolitan Room has been an overwhelming joy. The awards are so lovely, especially at this time in my life, were so totally unexpected and are so very appreciated."
She explains she feels blessed with her eight Metropolitan Room engagements. "I received enormous recognition for my work. The friendships I made there have enriched my life."
Last April, Miss Maye appeared as guest artist with Michael Feinstein at Zandel Hall "we had such a thrilling experience that he suggested I play Feinstein’s. "The opportunity to play Feinstein’s was irresistible."
Working New York, she states, has always been not only special but also important to a career. "Years ago there were so many prestigious clubs. I performed at the Copacabana, El Morocco, the Living Room, Michael’s Pub. Now, the number has dwindled."
Tedd Firth [Birdland’s Cast Party] will be music directing and on keyboards, with Tom Hubbard on base; and Jim Eklof, working with Miss Maye for 48 years, on drums.
"I simply adore Tedd," gushes Miss Maye. "He’s totally sensitive to the singer – the lyrics, the singers’ phrasing. There’s no ego with this young man. He only cares about accompanying and playing what will make the music and the performance the best possible. He’s so musically intelligent and knowledgeable."
The right pianist is a necessity, she says strongly. "I’m in a lot of musical bags – Broadway, show tunes, novelty material, and jazz always underlies the feel of every tune. My musicians play in all these styles. The ‘rubato’ balance is so essential."
The arrangements are a cooperative effort between Firth and Miss Maye. "We coordinate the material, chords, variations on structure, and the unusual rhymic ideas. What most impresses me about Tedd is the depth of his understanding whether the tunes are old or brand new."
Miss Maye is always secretive about the songs she’ll be singing, "because I feel it ruins the element of surprise, which is part of the audience’s enjoyment. Always with me, the audience is the star." There will be "more than the usual number of positive songs about love than I usually do." She broke tradition by noting that one song she’ll be doing is "I Love You Today," written by her mentor Steve Allen.
"I love uptempo, jazz, songs where I can belt, and ballads," she states. "I can get my teeth and voice into ballads. I find whimsical tunes are fun for me and the audience. With me, it’s always a party."
In the 1970s, Miss Maye made the transition from cabaret to theater, starring in productions of Can Can, Follies, Mame, and Hello, Dolly!
Another transition was to appearances with symphony orchestras, then supper clubs in the mid-West, which have sustained her for several years. Two years ago, she says "in an ironic twist of fate, I was rediscovered here though I’ve never stopped working! It has been most gratifying."
There’s more good news: a new CD is in the works. For ore information, visit www.marilynmaye.com.
The cover for Marilyn Maye In Love Again at Feinstein’s…, depending on day and time of show, is $40 with a $40 food/drink minimum. Shows are at 8:30 Tuesday – Thursday, 8 and 10:30 on weekends. $60 premium and $75 up-front seats are available. The weekend late show has and additional $25 minimum. For all shows, there are some seats, based on availability, for $40 and no minimum. Jackets are suggested, but not required. To reserve, call (212) 339-4095 or book online at feinsteinsatloewsregency.com or TicketWeb.com.