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Susan Winter: Loves Rolls On…

| October 9, 2016

Susan Winter

Loves Rolls On…

Metropolitan Room, NYC, October 7, 2016

Reviewed by Alix Cohen for Cabaret Scenes

susan-winter-cabaret-scenes-magazine_212For its 14th presentation, the successful New York Cabaret’s Greatest Hits series (producer Stephen Hanks, associate producer Dr, Jeffrey Hamblin) revives Susan Winter’s 2008 show.

Love Rolls On…: One assumes the performance must’ve been better then, if only for younger pipes, but it’s difficult to imagine in what way this might be true. D’you know how, when admiring a woman’s form, one might say she has a body, not that everyone doesn’t, but hers is notable? Well, Susan Winter has a voice.

There isn’t a false or less confident note, a phrase sung for breath rather than intention, jazz inflection that doesn’t emerge subtle, musical swell that arrives with stress; lyrics rule and, oh, those effective retards! The artist knows her range and pace. She openly communicates with an audience. Connecting patter is gracious, warm and personal; it may be rehearsed, but it’s not canned. This is an unhomogenized lady — never low, even when flirty.

Love Rolls On… was inspired by the discovery of a box of her parents’ red-ribbon-bound correspondence from World War II. Winter’s otherwise quiet father had been secretly loquacious and sentimental. Touching renditions of “All My Tomorrows” (Jimmy Van Heusen/Sammy Cahn) and “After Hours” (Avery Parrish/Robert Bruce & Buddy Feyne) are followed by her reading an excerpt from one of the lovely letters. In the last ten years, Winter has finally gotten to know her dad. “Isn’t It a Pity?” (George & Ira Gershwin) she sings, “…we never met before”

The evening also includes acknowledgment of her own marriage—a savory and sincere interpretation of Susan Werner/Jane Paul’s “I Can’t Be New,” which has staying power—her sons, and the cabaret family she’s created. Accompanied by “Minnesota Twins,” Rick Jensen (M.D./piano) and Tom Hubbard (bass), the vocalist occupies a stage like home.

Van Morrison’s swaying “Moondance” exemplifies Winter’s seamless segues from open throat to muted with nary a ripple. During “You’ll See” (Carroll Coates), long notes with vibrato tails circle the room like well-trained pets. A third “aspect,” arrives with Jensen’s infectious arrangement of “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home” (Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen). Kind of a percussive samba, the number eschews its usual overblown packaging for intimacy. Winter makes it hers.

Good relationships, she says, are based on compromise and luck. Carolyn Leigh/Cy Coleman’s “It Amazes Me” floats in, hovers, then deflates like a sigh. “After 35 years of marriage, I look over and think: Could he have ever strayed? I can say I never have, but then, my memory isn’t what it used to be.” On the lighter side, there’s Lee Wing’s mischievous “An Older Man Is Like an Elegant Wine”: “And when I meet him/I’ll enchant him/ Hug him, kiss him/Then I’ll decant him…,” which Winter performed for The Guzunters—“a group of men over 60 who are able to meet for lunch every so often”: Cole Porter’s buoyant “I’ve Still Got My Health” (replete with fluent rhymes “goil” and Castor Oil”); and an infectiously happy medley featuring “I Hear Music” (Frank Loesser/Burton Lane), with Winter and Jensen delivering harmonious do-do-dos.

The vocalist’s low-key “Old Friend” (Gretchen Cryer/Nancy Ford) and Jensen’s moving “In Passing Years” are conjoined with unforced emphasis exuding affection.

Guest Geoff Stoner accompanied Winter on a charming version of “I Love the Way You’re Breaking My Heart” (Milton Drake/Louis Alter) but, alas, his ukulele could not be heard above the piano.

Susan Winters is a thoroughbred.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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