Melba Moore: Annual Birthday Celebration

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Melba Moore

Annual Birthday Celebration

Metropolitan Room, NYC, October 27, 2014

Reviewed by Joel Benjamin for Cabaret Scenes

Melba-Moore-Annual-Birthday-Celebration-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Melba Moore, the Tony Award-winning singer, threw herself a much-deserved birthday celebration at the Metropolitan Room and provided her own entertainment. This amazing survivor proved that her vocal talents are not only undimmed, but richer than ever.

 She made her intentions clear with her first song, “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (Styne/Merrill).

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Her jazz bona fides were proven in an eloquent “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” (Ellington/Mills) and a passionate, languorous “Stormy Weather” (Arlen/Koehler).

As she spoke of her Broadway career she sang songs from Hair—“Aquarius,” “Easy to Be Hard,” “Let the Sunshine In” (MacDermot/Rado/Ragni)—in fresh arrangements, leading directly to her second show, Purlie, from which she sang a staggeringly exciting “I Got Love” (Gary Geld/Peter Udell), soaring into the high notes with a glee that belied her age. A “Motown Medley” also brought out the youthful qualities in her voice.

Her 98-year-old step-father, pianist Clem Moorman, got up to play “Happy Birthday,” but also managed a swinging “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” (Ellington/Bob Russell), without the benefit of sheet music.

She ended with “Lean on Me,” a plea for belonging, which she gave a particularly passionate reading.

Her band, all of whom had long, virtuoso solos, included Musical Director Levi Barcourt, Rodney Harrison (bass), and Leon Dorsey (drums).

Joel Benjamin

A native New Yorker, Joel was always fascinated by musical theater. Luckily, he was able to be a part of seven Broadway musicals before the age of 14, quitting to pursue a pre-med degree, which led no where except back to performing in the guise of directing a touring ballet troupe. Always interested in writing, he wrote a short play in high school that was actually performed, leading to a hiatus of nearly 40 years before he returned to writing as a reviewer. Writing for Cabaret Scenes has kept him in touch with world filled with brilliance.