Michael Feinstein: Ella on My Mind

| June 23, 2017

Michael Feinstein

Ella on My Mind

Appel Room, NYC, June 7, 2017

Reviewed  by Peter Haas for Cabaret Scenes

Michael Feinstein

There must be a Fountain of Youth bubbling beneath the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex—a fountain in which Michael Feinstein has been swimming. Serving as Director of the Center’s Jazz & Popular Song series, Feinstein also performed as host and vocalist for the series’ rich and rewarding evening remembering Ella Fitzgerald, Ella on My Mind, presented on the centennial of her birth.

With three guest vocalists and a 16-piece band conducted from the piano by Tedd Firth, Feinstein fronted a musically lush program of songs associated with Fitzgerald. “She sang everything,” he noted, as he opened with a medley of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” “Oh, Lady Be Good!” and, dedicated to Ella,“Too Marvelous for Words,” all backed by the band. Feinstein took to the piano himself, singing a gentle “I’m Glad There Is You” (“In This World of Ordinary People”).

The program was enriched by three young, talented guest vocalists: Nicole Henry, singing a peppy “That Old Black Magic,” a Quincy Jones arrangement of “(This Is) My Last Affair,” and a Duke Ellington arrangement of “Blues in the Night”; Vuyo Sotashe, lending a sweet tenor to “Sophisticated Lady” and “Imagine My Frustration” (the latter written for Ella by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, based on a Gerald Wilson melody); and Jessie Mueller, performing  “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” The Lady Is a Tramp,” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Mueller and Feinstein joined forces on “Deed I Do,” while he soloed again on “’S Wonderful.” 

An added attraction to the music was provided by nature. As the program concluded with the band and entire cast joining forces on “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” the floor-to-ceiling picture window behind the bandstand displayed the effects of sunset on Columbus Circle, Central Park and, beyond, on the buildings of Fifth Avenue—as the series adjourned, in twilight, until next year.

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

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