Romance and Rhythm
Birdland, NYC, November 16, 2015
Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes
Although Steve Ross continues in the tradition of Bobby Short, Matt Dennis and Ted Streater as an elegantly dressed man about town sitting at a piano, after 47 years entertaining, Ross continues to grow as a performer. His voice keeps getting stronger and his sound is more mellifluous. In Romance and Rhythm, Ross displayed his ability to work with, in the words of his favorite composer Cole Porter, “a big-time band.” The show featured a collection of 25 of the very best songs taken from the Great American Songbook. As is always the case with Ross, interesting and amusing comments are interspersed between the musical numbers.
He opened with a sprightly “Love Is on the Air Tonight” that lead into “Leader of a Big-Time Band,” accompanied by a band that perfectly captured the sound of the 1930s. A very snappy “42nd Street” was followed by an elegantly performed “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” which included all of the verses. Ross began a medley of songs from the film Swing Time performing a soft and slow “The Way You Look Tonight” just accompanying himself on piano, followed by “A Fine Romance,” “Pick Yourself Up” and ending with only the band and his piano performing a rousing “Bojangles of Harlem.” He closed with a medley from Porter’s Anything Goes followed by what Ross said were two of his favorites by Porter: “I Concentrate on You” and “In the Still of the Night,” and two of Porter’s New York songs: “Take Me Back to Manhattan” and “I Happen to Like New York.” The first encore was “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)” featuring additional verses provided by Noël Coward and Ross himself. The second encore was a very special and heartfelt “The Last Time I Saw Paris.”