Michael Feinstein: Swingin’ with the Season

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Michael Feinstein

Swingin’ with the Season

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, December 24, 2018

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Michael Feinstein

I never miss Michael Feinstein’s annual holiday show. Whether he is standing at the mic or sitting at the piano, his singing appears to be getting better each time I see him, becoming stronger with the years. What makes these shows especially appealing is Feinstein’s ability as a stand-up comedian. His prepared remarks are often very funny and his off-the-cuff remarks are even funnier. The combination of a wonderful vocalist, singing one great song after another with hilarious interludes in between, makes for a vastly entertaining evening. Music director Tedd Firth is a very valuable addition; his solos always draw applause and his arrangements are unique, often introducing Feinstein’s song with a melody from a different, but related song.

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 With Phil Palombi (bass) and Mark McClean (drums) backing him, Feisntein really shows off his ability to swing.

Feinstein’s opening number, “Christmas Waltz,” featured a new set of hilarious lyrics, leading into a very nice and beautiful “Pure Imagination.” Proving he could rock, he then did a raucous “Dancing in the Street,” with Firth’s trio rocking right along with him, mashed with a swinging “Come Dance with Me.” I was particularly pleased with his tribute to Victor Young which included some interesting biographical notes followed by his medley of “When I Fall in Love” (lyrics: Edward Heyman) and “My Foolish Heart” (lyrics: Ned Washington) which began with Firth playing a brief portion of “Stella By Starlight.” In his tribute to Jo Stafford, Feinstein did a very funny imitation of Stafford’s alter ego Darlene Edwards, before delivering a particularly effective “You Belong to Me.” He added funny Jewish lyrics to “Winter Wonderland.” He sat at the piano for a very warm and moving “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?,” after which he remarked that “Marilyn and Alan Bergman should know. They have been married for 60 years.

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” He paused and then got a big laugh by saying “Unhappily.

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” Firth introduced “Somewhere” with the strains of “Some Other Time” leading into Feinstein’s very dramatic performance and ending with an exceptionally big finish. His finale was a sing-along of “’S Wonderful.

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” His encore was “White Christmas,” including the seldom-performed verse, leading into a super-fast “Just One of Those Things” which had him pounding away at the piano with Firth.

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.