Wednesday, June 08, 2011

You Make Me Feel So Young: Barbara Cook at Feinstein's

Photo: Mike Martin

Barbara Cook. What do you think of when you hear that name? A pure soprano? Glitter and Be Gay? The queen of cabaret singers? The Music Man? Sondheim? An unparalleled interpreter of the American Songbook? Delightful raconteur? All of the above?

One phrase I never would have thought of is jazz singer! Until last night.

Cook's new show, You Make Me Feel So Young, at Feinstein's through June 18, includes 13 songs she has never sung before, along with some familiar favorites. Cook pointed out that 13 songs are a lot to learn and asked that we "be kind." But no kindness was necessary. Aside from a couple of messed-up lyrics, which she made charming, Cook was comfortable, assured, and, oh yeah, brilliant. She went new places (new to me at least), including extended scatting and surprising jazz phrasing.

Her set ranged from the slow, thoughtful, and heartfelt to swinging. In the first category were "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face," sung with piano only, and a yearning "I've Got You Under My Skin" with a gorgeous clarinet-centered arrangement by Cook and her music director, Lee Musiker. On the other end of the spectrum was a delightful, jazzy "The Frim Fram Sauce" and a wry "Wait 'Til You're Sixty-Five," sung with amused recognition that, for Cook, 65 was some time ago. Other highlights included "You Make Me Feel So Young," "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?", and "Live Alone and Like It."

As an added bonus, Cook's patter is great fun. She knows how to tell a story, and she has  funny stories to tell. I particularly enjoyed her tale of how she discovered the song "Love Is Good For Anything That Ails You." I'll only say that it includes the phrase "cat house."

And Cook's band--Lee Musiker on piano, Warren Odze on percussion, Jay Leonhart on bass, and Steve Kenyon on woodwinds--is fabulous.

Were there some missteps? One or two. "When I Look Into Your Eyes" was less than compelling, and I flat out dislike the song, "I'm a Fool to Want You."

But, who cares? It's Barbara Cook, still challenging herself, still surprising, always wonderful.

(press tix, nice seats behind the piano)

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