Cory Jamison: Guess Who I Saw Today: The Music of Murray Grand

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Cory Jamison

Guess Who I Saw Today:
The Music of Murray Grand

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, October 22, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Cory Jamison

The delicious Cory Jamison returned to New York City to pay tribute to the lesser-known composer/lyricist Murray Grand. Her choice of 13 songs by this skilled songwriter demonstrated the wide range of styles in which he worked, from highly romantic to cynical to bemused: from the charm of “I Always Say Hello (to a Flower)” (“flowers are the sweetest thing I know”) to the tortured “Thursday’s Child”(co-written with Elisse Boyd), referencing the old poem about how life is determined by what say one is born on.  The singer talked about Eartha Kitt having recorded the piece and then using its title for her published autobiography, without seeking the blessing of its writers or properly acknowledging them.  For comedy, there was   the unlikely “tribute” to Alaska, “April in Fairbanks,” where “you’ll suddenly discover a polar bear’s your lover.”

Jamison offered up these treats with an ease and assured style and emphasis on the constantly clever lyrics which she presented with a sensitivity to the shifting moods. She celebrated her maturity with the delightful “Too Old to Die Young,” and offered a quietly intense, low-key version of Grand’s best known song, “Guess Who I Saw Today” (also co-written with Boyd). And, she didn’t shy away from the raunchier aspects of Grand’s oeuvre, with such gems as “What’s a Lady Like Me?” and “Up Yours” (which Steve Ross, who was in the audience, admitted he had never had the nerve to sing).

If there was a flaw in the show, it was the singer’s natural garrulousness.

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She had obviously done a good deal of research for this show, but her tendency to go off on tangents slowed the program down. Less chat would have helped the songs to flow better.

Throughout the afternoon, she received excellent support from her musical director Tedd Firth. If the show was not “Ev’rything You Want,” it was still a delightful program.

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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."