Marilyn Maye is eternally ‘Young at Heart’ in
‘It’s Maye in May! By Sandi Durell
As I left Feinstein’s after Marilyn Maye’s opening last night, I thought to myself “after the many reviews I’ve written about her, I can’t think of any more descriptive words or accolades.”
What’s to say about an 83 year young jazz-pop singer that presents each song as if it were a delicacy at a feast filled with the ingredients of perfection? It doesn’t matter if it’s slow, swingin’, quick-time, bossa or jazz waltz (one of her favorite rhythms). When Maye wraps her intelligence and urbane musicianship around a note and lyric, they somehow emerge as if one is hearing them for the first time. That’s a collaborative effort, I’m sure, between Ms. Maye and her clever musical director/arranger Tedd Firth at the piano.
Medleys seemed to be the music of the night and talk of her three marriages flowed seamlessly into “Get Me To The Church On Time,” a slow, jazzy “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” followed by a swinging, scatting, racing “On The Street Where You Live.”
In between, there’s the soft living room wit that always works in her favor especially if there happens to be a dropped lyric. No one cares because it’s just another endearing quality of honesty. As the lady says, “I’m too old to be humble.”
Maye’s approach to a song is based upon her unique brand of storytelling and this time around she included some contemporary songwriters, i.e., Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman and “Butter Outta Cream” from the current Broadway musical “Catch Me If You Can.” A Fats Waller medley “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now/Ain’t Misbehavin’ and a double entendre “Honeysuckle Rose” were icing on the cake at this feast, followed by Arlen/Mercer’s hot and spicy “Blues in the Night.”
As she closed with Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here” and Jerry Herman’s “It’s Today,” it was evident that marvelous Marilyn Maye continues to be the definitive master class.
Additional accompaniment includes Tom Hubbard on bass and Jim Eklof on drums.
Run, do not walk, to Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency (212 339-4095) thru June 4th.
Photo: Mathew Peake