Jason Danieley at 54 Below - New York City Article
Feinstein’s / 54 Below
254 W 54th Street, (646) 476-3551
Through Saturday June 16
One highly-appropriate song that Jason Danieley is not singing this week is the vintage Rosemary Clooney hit “Mixed Emotions.” But that’s what most of us in the house were feeling when the storied singer-actor took to the stage at Feinstein’s last night. Mixed, because while there’s no shortage of joy in spending 70 minutes listening to Mr. Danieley, who is one of the major Broadway baritones and most formidable leading men of our time, but also a letdown in that this week had been planned as a duo show by Mr. Danieley and his wife, the sensational, Tony-nominated leading lady Marin Mazzie. Sadly, Ms. Mazzie, who has been fighting cancer for three years, is recovering from a recent treatment and not able to perform. Thus, Mr. Danieley is going on solo this week, along with musical director Joseph Thalken (with bassist Pete Donovan and drummer Richard Rosenzweig), and that’s nothing to take lightly.
If Ms. Mazzie’s absence was an unfortunate surprise, Mr. Danieley fulfilled other expectations by leading off with a string of romantic tunes from musical comedy: “With a Song in My Heart,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and exceptionally resplendent renditions of “I Have Dreamed” and “I Wish It So.” (The latter is something of a rarity, by Marc Blitzstein from Juno, and quite possibly the finest Irish ballad ever written by a German Jew.) Then there were the surprises, like a bossa nova recasting of Tony Bennett’s breakthrough hit, “Because of You,” and a sprightly, two-bit treatment of “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” making it more vaudeville than Ratpack. Plus a few from completely out of left field, like “Time,” a worthy original by pianist Thalken, and “To Be A Man,” a surprisingly introspective lament by Tom Scholz of the rock band Boston. (No, I didn’t see that one coming.)
While we wait for Ms. Mazzie’s return and the couple’s highly anticipated new duo show, Mr. Danieley proves what we already knew, that he’s got more than enough chops and “Heart” (which, in fact was his encore, delivered en clave a la Peggy Lee) to occupy our attention in the meantime.
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.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)