Judy Collins at the Cafe Carlyle - New York City Article

Judy Collins at the Cafe Carlyle


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Judy Collins at the Cafe Carlyle

Mar 28, 2018, 12:00 am

Judy Collins
The Café Carlyle
35 E 76th Street, (212) 744-1600
Through Saturday April 7

Who knows where the time goes? With her rows and flows of angel hair, not to mention her suitably angelic, flowing white ensemble, Judy Collins looks like just about half of her 78 years. And that’s just visually, vocally, she seems not to have aged at all since 50 years ago, when she was the number one voice and face of folk music just at the moment when folk-inspired singer-songwriters became a dominant voice in mainstream popular music. Her latest of many shows at the Carlyle may be her best, though I admit to a bias in that this one focuses so intently and brilliantly on the music of Stephen Sondheim. And fittingly so, since she is virtually the only artist ever to take one of his songs onto the pop charts and help him a win song of the year Grammy. She starts the current offering, accompanied both by pianist Russell Walden and her own guitar, by telling us the backstory of her record of “Send in the Clowns,” and sets us up to hear it - but then doesn’t sing it. Like the master showman (show-woman?) she is, she makes us wait for it, teases us like a lover, and spends the rest of the show alternating between Sondheim classics (“No One Is Alone,” “Green Finch and Linnet Bird,” “Not a Day Goes By,” “Finishing the Hat”), her own signature songs (“Chelsea Morning,” “Someday Soon,” “Both Sides Now”) and anecdotes from over the course of her 60 year career. Finally, at the last possible moment, after an hour that flies by so quickly I seriously thought that the clock on my phone was busted, she delivers the most satisfying performance of “Clowns” that I’ve ever heard. (At least since the late Sarah Vaughan. And that's even though it was somewhat tempered with a brief side reference to the current administration: “don’t bother, they’re here.”) But isn’t it rich, isn’t it queer, that a few months ago, Ms. Collins released a new album, titled A Love Letter to Sondheim, that no one seems to know about. (thank God it’s on Apple Music.)

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photo: David Andrako

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, November 2017)

SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)