Craig + 2: An Evening of Jazz Standards
Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, West Hollywood, CA, March 9, 2017
Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes
Craig Cochrane captures an audience with a soft, gentle, unhurried approach to straight-ahead jazz— singing in his warm, mellow voice and slow, deliberately paced delivery to lull his listeners into a state of pure pleasure while maintaining a twinkle in his eye that indicates how much he himself enjoys what he’s doing.
Using just a guitar and bass for backup, Cochrane made his solo cabaret debut meandering through songs about various stages of love, beginning with a gently expressive “All the Things You Are” (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein)—with Cochrane making direct eye contact with various audience members—and progressing to a strong, declarative “I Can’t Get Started” (Vernon Duke/Ira Gershwin) and a smooth “Night and Day” (Cole Porter), consistently demonstrating his ability to sweetly caress lyrics.
One of the evening’s highlights was an up-tempo version of “On the Street Where You Live” (Lerner & Loewe), which Cochrane characterized as a stalker song when taken out of its original context. It’s an idea he strengthened with an extended ending of self-penned lyrics in which he suggested moving onto that street and making life difficult for the object of his affection (e.g., breaking into her home, sleeping in her bed)—an addition that drew appreciative laughter and sustained applause from the audience.
He also showed off his versatility on “Like Someone in Love” (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke) by incorporating bits of melody and lyrics from two other songs (“If I Had You” and “Almost Like Being in Love”), and also by playing piano himself as an introduction to a quiet, introspective vocal on “Spring Is Here” (Rodgers & Hart).
He received excellent musical support throughout the evening from the “plus two” in his show’s title—Dori Amarilio on acoustic guitar and Gabe Davis on bass—the two backup instruments Sarah Vaughan used on a couple of early 1960s albums. Giving ample solos to both musicians, Cochrane clearly felt the music, often tapping his hand on his chest as they played.
The evening’s plus-two concept was supplemented by three guests: Dave Fortin playing trumpet on a swinging take on “Lock My Heart” (Jimmy Eaton/Terry Shand), with Cochrane leaning his head close to Fortin’s as he sang; Katz Hasebe on clarinet during a lyrically lovely “It Never Entered My Mind” (Rodgers & Hart); and singer Amy Turner in a playful, flirtatious duet on “Taking a Chance on Love” (Vernon Duke, John LaTouche and Ted Fetter).