Gone Too Soon: A Tribute to Nancy LaMott

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Gone Too Soon:  A Tribute to Nancy LaMott

Metropolitan Room, NYC, March 11, 2015

Reviewed by Joel Benjamin for Cabaret Scenes

Nancy-LaMott-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212For those of us who had the privilege to have seen Nancy LaMott (pictured) in the eighties and nineties, the memory is indelibly etched in our minds. Her influence, her clean, unadorned style of singing totally dedicated to illuminating the lyrics can still be observed. Several of her colleagues and younger artists put together a moving tribute to her at the Metropolitan Room.

She died too young, but her presence was certainly felt during this show. Using all her original astringent piano arrangements—mostly played by the extraordinary Yasuhiko Fukuoka—the artists channeled LaMott, dovetailing their styles with hers.

The program was narrated, on tape (due to a vocal impairment) by LaMott’s close friend Lina Koutrakos, who revealed, as only an insider could, the many fascinating details of LaMott’s rise to fame.

Marissa Mulder opened with “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” as a slow and thoughtful expression of hope, using her high, but rich voice. Her “It Might as Well Be Spring” captured LaMott’s languid sensuality (both songs by Rodgers & Hammerstein). William Blake, the closest thing we have to a pop countertenor, gave a bright reading to “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” (Warren/Mercer) as well as a medley of “Out of My Dreams” (Rodgers & Hammerstein), “Out of this World” (Harold Arlen/Mercer) and “So in Love” (Cole Porter). John Herrera, a warm-voiced baritone, sang Christopher Marlowe’s arrangement of Van Morrison’s “Moondance” and a Sondheim medley of “Not a Day Goes By” and “Good Thing Going.”  Gabrielle Stravelli sang a lusciously slow “How Deep Is the Ocean (How High Is the Sky)” by Irving Berlin.

Rick Jensen, pianist/composer extraordinaire—and LaMott’s long-time musical director—performed his “In Passing Years,” an elegy to time and friendship.

LaMott’s theme song, “Listen to My Heart” (David Friedman), sung by all four vocalists was, perhaps, the most beautiful tribute to her. Jensen ended the show on a wistful, gentle note with Billy Joel’s “This Is the Time.”

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.