Eric Yves Garcia
Keepers of the Keys
Feinstein’s/ 54 Below, NYC, March 7, 2017
Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes
Eric Yves Garcia showed that he belonged in the company of the four Keepers of the Keys: Nat Cole, Leslie Hutchinson, Hoagy Carmichael and Bobby Short. As he related, all four, like Garcia, at one time in their lives, were poor and stranded, and all were talented as vocalists and pianists. Whether standing in front of his trio or working at the piano, Garcia’s voice captured the essence of the performer he was paying tribute to. He gave each a brief yet amusing biographical story and performed a few of the songs associated with them. Garcia was ably backed by Musical Director Tom Hubbard (bass,) Nick Russo (guitar) and Howie Gordon (drums).
Garcia opened by walking through the audience singing “Penthouse Serenade,” the title song of a Nat Cole album which was the first LP he had ever bought. Garcia sat at the piano for three more numbers associated with Cole: “Walking My Baby Back Home,” a beautifully performed, poignant, “Nature Boy,” done without the trio backing him, and “Straighten Up and Fly Right.”
The tribute to Leslie Hutchinson was particularly interesting to me, as I was only aware of the name, knowing nothing about “Hutch,” but based on his tribute, I ordered two Hutchinson CDs immediately after the show. Garcia performed a very believable “I’m a Gigolo”—which Cole Porter wrote after Hutchinson had left him as a lover to move to England—followed by Porter’s “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love).”
The tribute to Carmichael opened with a story about the film To Have and Have Not, followed by Garcia performing Carmichael’s “How Little We Know” (words: Johnny Mercer) which was allegedly “mouthed” by Lauren Bacall (rumor has it that the singing was by a very young Andy Williams) in the film. The tribute to Carmichael closed with a very slow and moving “Star Dust,” that began with only Hubbard accompanying Garcia on the verse.
The Bobby Short tribute consisted of what Short called an Uptown/East Side medley which included, “Drop Me Off in Harlem,” “Steppin’ Out with My Baby,” and “Why Don’t We Try Staying Home” (Porter).
Garcia’s surprise ending was a tribute to the ultimate Keeper of the Keys, Sam (Dooley Wilson, who did not even play piano) from Casablanca with “As Time Goes By.” The encore was a tribute to the recently deceased Barbara Carroll, “Some Other Time.”