Claude Hall

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Claude Hall

Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, West Hollywood, CA, May 23, 2019

Reviewed by Les Traub for Cabaret Scenes

Claude Hall

Music director and pianist Jamieson Trotter set the tone for this show with a solo rendition of “Tea for Two” (Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar). From Trotter’s eclectic range of tempos and the use of chords that composer Youmans probably never dreamed of, it was quite apparent that this evening would not be a ride in your father’s Oldsmobile. Claude Hall followed in step, starting with a traditional opener—“I Love Being Here with You” (Peggy Lee/Bill Schluger-nom de plume Dave Cavanaugh)—but also playing around with tempo and having fun with the phrasing. She changed the pace with a slow and soothing “When Lights Are Low” (Benny Carter/Spencer Williams) and in parts of the song her voice evoked the sound of a mellow cello. She finished with dynamic scatting. Trotter took an adventurous solo during the number. The slow pace continued with “I Chose the Moon” (Mark Winkler/Bill Cantos) with her emotional reading and even a chuckle or two at appropriate spots in the song.

Hall came up with an imaginative song list for the show that had a mix of old, new, and very obscure material, including a saloon song called “Waiter, Make Mine Blues” (Ray Biondi/Anita O’Day), which she dedicated to longtime Gardenia bartender Kyle.

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She included a couple of her story-song originals—“August Afternoon” and “Say What’s in My Heart.

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” The latter sounds like it would be full of clichés, but it and the other one contained thoughtful lyrics that held one’s attention.

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Patter was held to a minimum, used mostly to briefly set up the song or describe her relationship to it.

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The partnership with Trotter produced a magical musical evening as both spurred each other on with their creativity. Keeping up with Trotter would be a challenge for any singer, but Hall was definitely up to the task.

Les Traub

Les Traub has been covering the cabaret scene for over twenty years. He is a co-founder and President of Cabaret West and has produced cabaret shows at the Jazz Bakery, Cinegrill, Gardenia, El Portal Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse and at UCLA. He co-produced and wrote a Sammy Cahn tribute show at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. He is Chairman of the Board of Musical Theatre Guild, where he co- produced Sail Away, High Spirits, Little Mary Sunshine and Street Scene at the Alex Theatre. He has lectured on cabaret in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Connecticut. .