Ann Hampton Callaway: The Linda Ronstadt Songbook

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Ann Hampton Callaway

The Linda Ronstadt Songbook

Birdland, NYC, January 22, 2019

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Ann Hampton Callaway
Photo: Michael Di Clemente

From the moment Ann Hampton Callaway steps on the stage you know that you are seeing a very special performer. Her dynamism is contagious. She is constantly in motion and she moves across the stage gracefully.

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Her diction makes every lyric crystal clear.

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She is more than a great jazz singer, she is a great entertainer.

I must confess to have had a crush on Linda Ronstadt, so the combination of Callaway and Ronstadt was irresistible to me. She was backed by a wonderful quartet led by music director Billy Stritch.

Her very big voice boomed the very lively opening number “Different Drum,” Ronstadt’s first hit recording. It was followed by another early hit for Ronstadt, “Long Long Time.” She got the audience to chant “You’re No Good, You’re No Good” as she performed “You’re No Good.” She delivered a brief biography of Ronstadt, before performing “Blue Bayou” with Stritch joining her on the vocal. The band was loud, but Callaway overpowered it with “It’s So Easy.” Callaway said “Heart Like a Wheel” is the song closest to her heart, and she replaced Stritch at the piano to perform it soulfully. She can scat with the best of them, as was displayed in her swinging performance of “Am I Blue.” After speaking about Ronstadt’s three albums with Nelson Riddle, she displayed her amazing vocal range and dramatic skills with “What’s New.” She ended by holding the final note on the word “so” until the applause drowned her out.

Not finished with “What’s New,” she then did a right-on-the-money impression of Billie Holiday’s version. She closed, using her sweet voice on “Somewhere, Out There.

” She came back to talk about Ronstadt’s retirement due to Parkinson’s disease before her encore, the song Ronstadt closed many of her shows with, “Desperado.”

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.