Michael Feinstein: Swinging with the Count

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Michael Feinstein

Swinging with the Count

Appel Room, NYC, May 31, 2018

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Michael Feinstein

Can Michael Feinstein swing? Put him in front of a jazz all-star 18-piece orchestra playing in the manner of Count Basie’s Old and New Testament Orchestras, and he can swing with the best of them. Add the always marvelous Ann Hampton Callaway, West Coast jazz singer Kenny Washington, and very special guest Bucky Pizzarelli, and you have the ingredients for a marvelous evening of great entertainment. Setting the concert in the dazzlingly beautiful Appel Room, with the orchestra performing in front of a window looking out on Manhattan, made the evening memorable.

Feinstein opened with a swinging “Smack Dab in the Middle” followed by “I Wanna Be Around.” Washington did a vocal version of the Count Basie classic “April in Paris,” ending as Basie did by saying “one more time” after the orchestra performed the tumultuous closing bars. Legendary 92-year-old guitarist Pizzarelli came out of retirement to pay tribute to longtime Basie guitarist Freddie Green, with his performance of “Li’l Darlin’.

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” Callaway began her showstopping “God Bless the Child,” featuring a spectacular finish, with an on-the-money impersonation of Billie Holiday. She would combine with Washington for a duet performed by Sarah Vaughan and Joe Williams with the Basie orchestra, “If I Were a Bell.” Feinstein returned to pay tribute to Basie’s female vocalist Helen Humes by performing one of her signature songs, “If I Could Be with You (One Hour Tonight),” that included a soft and beautifully performed verse. He closed with an upbeat, really swinging “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You.

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” The three vocalists combined voices for the encore tribute to Basie vocalist Joe Williams: “Everyday I Have the Blues.”

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.