Michael Feinstein and Marilyn Maye: What a Team!
By: Sandi Durell
It was Standard Time with the incomparable Michael Feinstein whose guest happened to be the mesmerizing Marilyn Maye on October 21 at Zankel Hall – Carnegie Hall. What a team! And the icing on this dessert was "Too Marvelous for Words" – the lyrics of the incredible, versatile Johnny Mercer.
As usual, Mr. Feinstein not only gave the sold out audience the music but all the backstage gossip and information that makes his evenings so essential and special. Did you know that Mercer had over 200 collaborators? That his song of revenge "I Wanna Be Around" (1960) came about from a title suggested by a lady behind a perfume counter, Sadie Vimmerstedt, whom he credits for the idea and gave 1/3 of his royalties? Now where else could you get this kind of information??
That said, having seen and written about Mr. Feinstein numerous times, I have to say that the man was on fire – yes, there was something so vital and powerful in his performance; his voice reminded me of silk, soft velvet that kept unraveling into multi-layers of emotion. I know Mercer had lots of complexity and layers and it surely must have served as a catalyst for Mr. F in his extraordinary nuanced performance. Mellow and easy flowed generously in "I Thought About You" (Van Heusen, music, 1939) along with a glorious medley of ballads that included "PS I Love You"/"I Remember You" but Mr. F, with boyish grin and twinkle, always full of fun, got lots of laughs with novelty "Girlfriend of the Whirling Dervish" (Harry Warren, Al Dubin, 1938).
Before we knew it, marvelous Marilyn Maye was being introduced and it was party time. It’s always a party when Ms. Marilyn is around! What’s to say about the iconic glamour gal that hasn’t already been said? She opened with the perfect song "Too Marvelous for Words" that began a medley of tunes including "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby"/"Jeepers Creepers"/"Something’s Gotta Give" moving into "Anyplace I Hang My Hat is Home." She’s always full of spit and vinegar and is the nicest naughty lady I know who can tell a story better than anyone. She’s sure, say’s she, that had she actually met Johnny Mercer (and she almost did), they would have married!
With every ounce of her being, "Old Black Magic" was a sensation followed by a vignette that included a bossa version of "Out of This World" followed by "Drinkin’ Again"/"One for My Baby"/"Come Rain or Come Shine" – – a treasure trove sung by cabaret’s ultimate treasure.
Together, MF and MM were magic as they closed out one of the most memorable evenings of musical genius I’ve had the pleasure to attend. With Tedd Firth on piano, Sean Smith on bass and Mark McLean on drums, this was surely their "Shining Hour."
Photo: Maryann Lopinto