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Wendy Scherl: You’ll See

| February 4, 2020

Wendy Scherl

You’ll See
(Harbinger Records)
January 31, 2020
Reviewed by John Hoglund

Some singers like a challenge. Continuing her return to cabaret (begun in 2015) after an 18-year hiatus, Wendy Scherl brings a warm and personal touch to You’ll See. This new album of well-chosen songs is an inviting listen throughout. Her disciplined, well-controlled vocals enhance beautiful selections with a gentle touch that simply works. Weaving interesting, old, and familiar titles onto a solid disc is the challenge. Succeeding is her forte.

It’s all masterfully arranged by luminous music director Christopher Denny with cabaret director Barry Kleinbort at the helm. The CD has special moments to savor, such as the Burt Bacharach/Hal David beauty, “Whoever You Are, I Love You.” This poignant song, introduced on Broadway by Jill O’Hara in Promises, Promises in 1968, was recorded by Dionne Warwick as well as other prominent artists including Marlene ver Planck and Tony Bennett. Scherl puts her own stamp on a cut that is compelling. She brings a similar treatment to the 1942 Jerome Kern/Johnny Mercer staple “I’m Old Fashioned.” Skipping a few decades, she proves she is even more adept with piquancy on a heartfelt reading of William Finn’s “I Am There” from Elegies. She is trenchant on these touching lyrics. This just might sum up the flavor of this eclectic CD as she is a natural in singing romantic story songs. That is particularly obvious as she tackles the well-known “The Way We Were” (Marvin Hamlisch/Alan and Marilyn Bergman) in medley with the lesser-known “Niagara” (Hamlisch/Carole Bayer Sager). This could prove risky as both are firmly linked to Streisand.
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The medley unfolds like a waterfall of love lost and love remembered. Skillfully, she pulls this off as if it had been written just for her, making the cut a major highlight.

Other surprises come with Rusty Magee’s “New York Romance” and a bouncy “There Are Two Sides to Everything” (Moose Charlap/Elsie Simmons) from Alice Through the Looking Glass. On the album’s most ambitious offering, she delivers a delightfully complex medley that fuses Stephen Sondheim’s “Move On” (from Sunday in the Park with George) with Maltby and Shire’s “I Wouldn’t Go Back” (Closer Than Ever) and bookends it with a reprise of “Moving On” with Kander and Ebb’s “Yes” (70 Girls 70) . Placing such musical theater giants together in an extended medley and making it so fluent might seem daunting to a lesser talent. Thanks to the musical genius of Christopher Denny, Scherl nails it. Other highlights include Barry Kleinbort’s “The Kindest Man” (Marty) and a folksy “To Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan. She makes each song relevant and worthy of a seasoned singer who knows her strengths. She shares it all on this special album that has something for everyone.  

The musical direction by Denny is about as pristine as it can be. The equally talented band delivers with bassist Bob Renino, drummer/percussionist Rex Benincasa, reedman Ken Dybisz, trumpeter Hollis Burridge, trombonist Dan Levine, baritone saxophonist Rick Walburn, and cellist Eric Allen.

Category: CD Reviews, CD Reviews, Music, New York City, New York City CD Reviews, Regional

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