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Laura Osnes: The World of Rodgers & Hammerstein

Laura Osnes: The World of Rodgers & Hammerstein

Posted Sep 27, 2017

For those who feel that the best part of Broadway is great singers doing great songs, Tony-nominated singer-actress Laura Osnes’s latest offering at the Carlyle is all the good stuff: one of the most engaging younger performers with one of the most outstanding voices on Broadway doing song after classic Rodgers and Hammerstein song. Partnering with accompanist and musical director Ted Sperling (who chimes in a bit himself, here and there), she starts very strong with a medley of three R&H waltzes: “Impossible” (from her award-winning leading role as Cinderella), “I Whistle a Happy Tune” (The King and I), “My Favorite Things” (The Sound of Music), and delivers them with such convention that you would love to hear the two of them sustain an entire hour of Richard Rodgers in three-quarter time - although Ms. Osnes is just as winning in 2/4 and 4/4. Continuing the idea of delivering the most essential parts of a classic show, Ms. Osnes has recruited an outstanding young baritone Ryan Silverman to join her in two classic R&H set pieces - two iconic falling-in-love sequences from Carousel (including “If I Loved You”) and South Pacific. He also delivers a full-blown version of the famous “Soliloquy” from Carousel, something not often heard in a supper club. Gloriously sung, this is musical theater at its most intimate - and at its most sublimely musical.

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Maria Friedman Sings Sondheim and Bernstein @ 54 Below

Maria Friedman Sings Sondheim and Bernstein @ 54 Below

Posted Sep 21, 2017

Maria Friedman is one of the rare singer-actresses that has become so universally respected as an interpreter of the great theater songs (both in full scale productions as well as her own one-woman shows) that she’s become one of the very few to “graduate,” as it were, to shaping the interpretations and performances of others, as a director. The works of Stephen Sondheim have long been a career focal point, which has led to her serve as director of the current highly-acclaimed (and hopefully Broadway-bound) production of Merrily We Roll Along. Her new cabaret show intermingles the Sondheim catalog with the equally iconic songs of his one-time collaborator Leonard Bernstein. As you’d expect, it returns repeatedly to that celebrated one-shot collaboration, West Side Story, but also unearths a few rarities along the way, like a Bernstein anti-war song called “So Pretty” and “Take Care of this House,” from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a 1976 musical about the White House that somehow seems especially relevant today. In what first seems be a nervy move for a Londoner, she begins with an extended collage of Metrocentric songs by both composers, including “What More Do I Need” and the less frequently heard “Me and My Town,” and interprets them with such penetrating insight that you almost feel that she knows more about New York than those of us who live here do. Spoiler alert: her encore finale, “Gee, Officer Krupke” which she sings as a one-woman quartet of Jets (with the aid of multiple chapeaus and a judge’s wig) is a comic tour-de-force.

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The Fifth Annual Hot Jazz Festival
(@ The McKittrick Hotel)

The Fifth Annual Hot Jazz Festival (@ The McKittrick Hotel)

Posted Sep 21, 2017

Even at the first Hot Jazz Festival, way back in 2013, it was immediately clear that this not-yet-annual celebration was going to be one of the big events of the year, and something to look forward to. Every year since then, festival founder and producer Michael Katsobashvili has proved over and over that the hottest thing in jazz isn’t necessarily the newest, but, more often than you’d be expect, the genre of the music that most appeals to new generations, both as listeners (and dancers!) and creators, are the exuberant sounds that flourished in New Orleans, Chicago, and Harlem up through the 1920s and 1930s and earlier. For this edition, some of the mainstays are back, and they’ve grown in stature since the festival started - especially cofounder Bria Skonberg and the Hot Sardines, who are now signed to Sony and Universal Music, respectively. In addition to exuberant mainstays like the Grand Street Stompers, trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso’s EarRegulars, clarinet Dennis Lichtman with Mona’s Hot Four, there are welcome newcomers like Felix Peikli, Joe Doubleday's Showtime Band with Kat Edmonson, and the brilliant french songstress Cyrille Aimee teaming with her countryman and modern day Djangologist, Stephane Wrembel. The varieties of this music are endless: I’m especially looking forward to shows celebrating unusual instruments: not only hot violin (with both Aaron Weinstein, Andy Stein), but jazz washboard (a French speciality, it turns out) and jazz theremin (masterminded by that multi-instrumental mad genius, Scott Robinson) and tributes to deserving jazz age giants like Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, and Annette Hanshaw (the latter by that overwhelmingly unique song stylist Tamar Korn).

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Dianna Agron @ Cafe Carlyle

Dianna Agron @ Cafe Carlyle

Posted Sep 20, 2017

Dianna Agron, making her debut at the Café Carlyle this week, may be the only headliner I’ve seen in a New York club who hasn’t yet been on Broadway but has nevertheless earned the right to call herself a “singer-actress” through her work on television, specifically the long-running, musically-driven series Glee. (Although her stylish black gown and cape seemed a little more like something from Game of Thrones.) Even though she’s new to doing solo shows (accompanied by guitarist Gill Landry) in small-ish rooms like the Carlyle, she already seems to have grasped the single most fundamental idea of what we (at least in New York) call “cabaret,” which is the idea of keeping everything intimate and establishing a direct connection with the crowd. Although she’s shown elsewhere that she can belt when she wants, she wisely sang most of her opening night in a low breathy whisper, like a post-millennial update of Julie London. She also knows that she can reach the crowd more easily with songs everybody knows, and to that end the program is a set of 1960s-centric standards (mostly associated with male performers) - the only significantly older song is “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” and that, as we know, is also a 1960s pop hit. The voice is lovely and the guitar backing matches the mood, making both performers seem suitably vulnerable. Some songs are sung to the audience, like “Bang Bang” and “Harvest Moon,” while others are done with the audience, like “Dance Me to the End of Love” (I never had thought of Leonard Cohen’s music as suitable for a campfire-style sing-along) and “Dream a Little Dream.” Either way, this young woman has a commendable understanding of the medium, and I’m sure this won’t be her last appearance in a major midtown club.

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VIDEO: Meet The Cannoli King of Caffe Palermo in Little Italy, NYC!

Posted Sep 15, 2017

Get to know Baby John, aka “The Cannoli King” of Little Italy’s beloved Italian restaurant Caffe Palermo, in this exclusive interview with The Citiview NYC!

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Bob Dorough: Back to School House Rock

Bob Dorough: Back to School House Rock

Posted Sep 13, 2017

At 93, singer, pianist, songwriter and raconteur Bob Dorough has led many lives: you might group him with Jon Hendricks, the late Oscar Brown, Jr., and his frequent collaborator Dave Frischberg as one of the few significant songwriters to write distinctly jazz-flavored words and music for jazz singers and musicians - most famously “Comin’ Home Baby” for Mel Torme, “I’ve Got Just About Everything” for Tony Bennett, and “I’m Hip” for Blossom Dearie.

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Patsy's Italian Restaurant: An Off-Broadway Hit in NYC Since 1944

Patsy's Italian Restaurant: An Off-Broadway Hit in NYC Since 1944

Posted Sep 8, 2017

For 73 years Patsy’s Italian Restaurant of New York has been a family-owned-andoperated traditional Italian restaurant located in midtown Manhattan, just steps from the Theatre District, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center.

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Wynton Marsalis & The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra: The Fantastic Mr. Jelly Lord

Wynton Marsalis & The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra: The Fantastic Mr. Jelly Lord

Posted Sep 1, 2017

Special guests include two of the most outstanding younger piano virtuosos of the contemporary era, Aaron Diehl and Sullivan Fortner, and two even younger piano prodigies who are still ensconced at Juilliard, Micah Thomas and Joel Wenhardt.

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