Susannah B: Girl Gone Wilder!

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Susannah B

Girl Gone Wilder!

Catalina Jazz Club, Hollywood, CA, July 25, 2019

Reviewed by Les Traub for Cabaret Scenes

Susannah B

Susannah B showcased the songs on her cleverly titled new CD, Girl Gone Wilder!, a tribute to composer Alec Wilder. The verbal portrait that she painted of Wilder as complex, emotional, and lonely was illustrated with strong performances of songs that reflected those traits. Some of them may seem simple, but there is a deep undercurrent running through them. Susannah and her fellow musicians beautifully captured the spirit of the songs, which can be difficult to sing and to play.

After opening with “Crazy in the Heart” (lyric: William Engvick), written for Peggy Lee, Susannah masterfully tackled the Roy Kral-arranged scatting on “Don’t Stop” (Engvick) with scatting pianist Mike Farrell joining her on the song, which was introduce by Jackie & Roy. She beautifully captured the wistfulness, sadness, and loneliness found in many of the songs with her sensitive approach. She gave a touching reading of “Blackberry Winter” (Loonis McGlohon) and successfully conveyed the mood and emotions of some lesser-known songs such as “Nobody Ever Told Me” (McGlohon) and “Rain Rain (Don’t Go Away)” (Marshall Barer).

Susannah cleverly set up her closing number with comment made earlier in the show. Being unfamiliar with Wilder’s music until she was asked to sing one of his songs at a neighbor’s house concert, she began to explore his oeuvre. She came across his most well-known song, “I’ll Be Around,” and dismissed it after seeing Wilder’s opening lyrics, “I’ll be around, no matter how you treat me now.” She said that she never could sing that; “it’s not me.” But she came to understand Wilder and his songs and closed the show with a swinging version of it.

Music director John Ballinger (guitar) did the terrific arrangements. His sextet, doubling and tripling on instruments, were superb together and each played brilliant solos. In addition to Ballinger and Farrell, they included Sal Lozano (woodwinds), Scott Breadman (percussion), Ray McNamara (drums), and Jonathan Ahrens (bass).

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. .