By: Maryann Lopinto
March 23, 2023: Karen Mason returned to Birdland on Monday recreating her “ALL THAT JAZZ” the songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb which she debuted there almost a year ago on March 28th 2022. Kander and Ebb started writing together in 1961 and are the longest running continuous composer/lyricist team in Broadway History. Having written their first show for Liza Minnelli, her Broadway debut, “FLORA THE RED MENACE” and their last show, “THE VISIT” starring Chita Rivera who happened to be in the audience and gave Karen a standing ovation after singing “Love and Love Alone” from that show. Fred Ebb passed away in 2004 and John Kander is very much alive and just celebrated his 96th Birthday the week before. I love that man. His new show “NEW YORK! NEW YORK!” written with Lin-Manuel Miranda starts previews on Friday March 24th. Can’t Wait!
Karen first became connected with Kander and Ebb when she was cast in the Off-Broadway revue “AND THE WORLD GOES ROUND” in 1991. Her repertoire consisted of songs from the various shows and motion pictures and a few individual songs,like “My Coloring Book.” She’s a composers dream as she knows what the songs are about whether heartfelt or funny.
She put her own interpretation in “New York, New York” and with“Cabaret” took the liberty of some new lyrics written by her director Barry Kleinbort. My favorite is “Colored Lights” and each time she sings it she blows the roof off and the audience applause goes on forever. It was this song that introduced me to Karen when her first cd came out. “Simply Broadway” and I bought it because of this song, I became a fan and immediately we became friends. Anytime she asks me for requests, that is the song I always ask for.
The others songs were “All That Jazz”, “Life of the Party”,”Maybe This Time”, “One of the Smart Ones”, One Good Break”, “Go Back Home”, “Ring Them Bells”, “Married”, “Sorry I Asked”, “The World Goes Round”, “How Lucky Can You Get” and “A Quiet Thing”. There are so many other fantastic songs they wrote, it was hard for her to choose.
She was accompanied on the piano by Christopher Denny and on bass, Ritt Henn.
Her next cd with be the songs of Kander and Ebb. John Kander was in attendance at the show last year.
How lucky can we get.