Max von Essen: Call Me Old Fashioned: The Broadway Standard

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Max von Essen

Call Me Old Fashioned: The Broadway Standard

Birdland, NYC, August 19, 2019

Reviewed by Candace Leeds for Cabaret Scenes

Max von Essen
Photo: Pasha Kalachev

Max von Essen returned to Birdland with a delightful program of Broadway standards to celebrate the release of his debut album, Call Me Old Fashioned: The Broadway Standard. His fans were out in force, filling every seat, as von Essen presented many of the grand standards on his CD, including “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” (Jimmy McHugh/Dorothy Fields), “Fly Me to the Moon” (Bart Howard), and “Show Me” (Frederick Lowe/Alan Jay Lerner).

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Adding to his rich sound and vocal power was his partner on the piano, the talented Billy Stritch, who provided additional vocals on a number of songs, including “Isn’t It a Pity “ (George and Ira Gershwin) and “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” (Jimmy McHugh/Dorothy Fields).

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The addition of Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf on the cello added a rich texture and drama to a number of songs. Von Essen’s presentation of “The Trolley Song” (Hugh Martin) combined with “Gotta Have Me Go with You” (Harold Arlen/Ira Gershwin) was a showstopper. Another highlight was his rendition of “Almost Like Being in Love,” (Loewe/Lerner), during which von Essen stepped away from the mic and allowed his bold and beautiful voice to fill the room.  

He concluded the program with the splashy number he performed in the Broadway show, An American in Paris, “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” (the Gershwins). 

Candace Leeds

Candace Leeds has been steeped in the world of music since the age of twelve, when she enrolled in Juilliard to study voice and prepare for a professional career. After 15 years of music studies, she moved into entertainment management at New York's Town Hall, where she produced concerts and served as Associate Director. Her writing and marketing skills led to senior positions in major public relations firms, including the PR arm of Grey Advertising and The Rowland Company, which became part of Saatchi and Saatchi. For the past two decades, she served as Vice President of Public Affairs at the multi-billion dollar conglomerate, Loews Corporation, and now has her own marketing consulting company. While pursuing her business career, she continued her music involvement, studying cabaret and occasionally performing in local New York venues. Candace is an accomplished writer whose work has appeared in the New York Daily News, TV World, and many others.