Marina Pacowski: You and I

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Marina Pacowski

You and I

Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, West Hollywood, CA, November 14, 2018

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes Magazine

Marina Pacowski

Marina Pacowski is like the bubbles in a glass of French champagne—sparkling, effervescent, delightful, and a joy to watch. She sings with a comfortable jazz inflection, she scats with stunning exuberance, she plays piano beautifully, and her ability to get to the essence of each song is tres magnifique—all qualities that are enhanced by her charming French accent. 

Making the evening of romantic standards particularly special was the presence at her side of guitarist Steve Cotter, her significant other, who was her only accompanist. Their affection was palpable throughout the evening, as indicated by the strong eye contact they maintained and the tiny between-songs whispers they exchanged.

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Pacowski established that love was in the air from her opening number, “Alone Together” (Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz), sung softly and tenderly, followed by a spritely version of “Taking a Chance on Love” (Vernon Duke/John LaTouche/Ted Fuller). She was bouncy and joyous on “The Way You Look Tonight” (Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields), deeply emotional on “My Foolish Heart” (Victor Young/Ned Washington), and sincere on “I Wish You Love” (Charles Trenet), sung in her native French.

Though her accented English is very good, she told the audience that reverting to French or simply scatting “makes life so much easier.” She showed off her deft ability to scat on several songs—none more effectively than when she clearly wowed the audience with Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee.” 

While Pacowski and Cotter sat next to each other on stools for most of the evening, she would often move quickly to the piano—with a nod to Terry Cole on sound and lights—to show off her skill as a classically-trained pianist, singing or scatting while Cotter excelled on electric guitar.

Among the evening’s highlights was a languid, sensual take on Johnny Mandel’s “A Time for Love” and a warm “Moon and Sand” (Alex Wilder/Morty Palitz/William Engvick), which Pacowski said was the first song she and Cotter ever played together.

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Toward the end of the evening, he switched to acoustic guitar to play and sing “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” (Alan and Marilyn Bergman/Michel Legrand) in a low, unassuming voice, to which she responded with French lyrics in a sensual, emotive style.

Acknowledging that the feeling between them is “true love,” Pacowski ended the show with a heartfelt “Love Is Here to Stay” (George and Ira Gershwin).

Elliot Zwiebach

Elliot Zwiebach loves the music of The Great American Songbook and classic Broadway, with a special affinity for Rodgers and Hammerstein. He's been a professional writer for 45 years and a cabaret reviewer for five. Based in Los Angeles, Zwiebach has been exposed to some of the most talented performers in cabaret—the famous and the not-so-famous—and enjoys it all. Reviewing cabaret has even pushed him into doing some singing of his own — a very fun and liberating experience that gives him a connection with the performers he reviews.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Eddie Gherna

    Magnificent performance of “You and I” by Marina Pacowski and Steve Cotter at the Gardenia on November 14th 2018. I totally agree with Elliot Zwiebach on his review of the show. The musical expertise on display was top-notch, enjoyable, and very entertaining. In that room there was a palpable feeling of love, romance, and, yes, magic!

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