Kevin Dozier: Christmas Eve

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Kevin Dozier

Christmas Eve
The Green Room 42, NYC, December 17, 2019
Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Kevin Dozier

The soft-spoken charmer Kevin Dozier returned to the New York cabaret scene to celebrate the release of his new holiday-themed CD, Christmas Eve. A collection of both traditional carols and more recent works, it offers up a lovely balance of material from which the evening’s song list was chosen. Several tracks from the disc were used, with Dozier singing live to the pre-recordings, and music director Alex Rybeck supplementing his own piano playing on the album. These adjustments helped to retain the “liveness” of the evening, often lost with the use of electronic audio.

Not that the Dozier presence seems to emanate from anywhere but from within his own generous personality. His sweet tenor with just a hint of attractive gravel inhabits classic material as “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” offered partially a cappella, and “Christmas Bells Are Ringing,” delivered with an innocence the makes the song sound fresh. But he is also capable of projecting a bittersweet mood for the title track of the album, written by Rybeck and the late Carol Hall.

Rybeck certainly was all over the music program, as accompanist, occasional vocalist, and strong presence in his own right. Joined by the gifted guest star, guitarist Sean Harkness, the three made for a potent trio, working in various combinations from a united offering of “Angels We Have Heard on High” that enthralled in its simplicity to a jazzy “There’s No Place Like Home” for voice and guitar. Harkness, on his own, offered up his “favorite all-purpose nondenominational holiday song “My Favorite Things,” shifting through a variety of styles and moods.

Dozier remained at the center of his show, bringing a sweet generosity to “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” a wondering soul to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” and a charming desire in “My Grown-Up Christmas Wish” (David Foster/Linda Thompson-Jenner).

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The emotional highlight was a medley of Sondheim’s “Goodbye for Now” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (Kim Gannon/Walter Kent) created a heartbreaking moment.
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Even the maestro agreed, endorsing the singer as having a “swell voice!” For once, Sondheim may have been understating the case.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."