Home for the Holidays:
A Café Carlyle Tradition
Café Carlyle, NYC, December 2, 2016
Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes
Appearing for his 12th annual holiday season, Steve Tyrell’s traditional Home for the Holidays is the Café Carlyle. He inherited this stage in 2005 after the death of Bobby Short, master of the room for 36 years. For audiences ready to splurge on celebrations, the Carlyle is the place to go and signal in the holiday season for songs and stories by the affable Tyrell.
Accompanied by a first rate pop-jazz band including Quinn Johnson on piano, David Finck on bass, Musical Director Bob Mann on guitar, David Mann on reeds, Kevin Winard on drums and Jon Allen on keyboards, the vocal deliveries of Tyrell are gritty, warm and swinging. He is comfortable with a range of American music genres and the songwriters of classics like his opener, “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” (Irving Berlin).
With strong evidence of Tyrell’s Texas and New Orleans musical roots and his respect for jazz and R&B, the instrumentalists have their own moments in the sun. Besides a few seasonal songs, he performs the Harry Woods hit for Billie Holiday, “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and “Ain’t Misbehavin'” (Harry Brooks/Andy Razaf/Fats Waller), savory with Johnson’s stride piano and Mann’s sax. Mann’s harmonic creativity and guitar illuminate Tyrell’s rendition of “Am I Blue?” (Harry Akst/Grant Clarke) as well as his encore, “Georgia on My Mind” by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell. “It Had to Be You” illustrates Finck’s bass presence.
Tyrell left Texas and moved to New York at age 18 to work as staff producer with Scepter Records. As the hot music names of the 1960s moved to Los Angeles, he went along, busy in the music business as a producer, songwriter, music supervisor, and recording demos and film soundtracks. However, it was with his appearance in Father of the Bride when his popularity singing standards took off. Standards became the new choices for wedding songs and Tyrell is proud to note that at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, the former President danced with his daughter to Dorothy Fields/Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight.”
Tyrell has recorded nine albums of standards with the next, dedicated to Ray Charles, scheduled for 2017. Saluting Charles, he delivered Percy Mayfield’s teaser, “Hit the Road, Jack” with the audience invited to sing along. Recently, he produced Kristin Chenoweth’s new album, The Art of Elegance, which debuted at #1 on Billboard‘s Jazz Chart.
In Los Angeles, he moderates The Steve Tyrell Show on KJAZZ 88.1 FM and is scheduled to host a live show on Sirius XM’s Siriusly Sinatra channel for Frank’s 101st birthday later this month (details forthcoming).
This show runs through the month, including New Year’s Eve.