Angela Leone: Mathis and More

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Angela Leone

Mathis and More

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, February 15, 2020

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Angela Leone

The link for the chosen songs consisted of the male singers whom Leone admired, learned from, and in a few cases, had connections with. (Her tale of her mother feeding The Hoboken Four, including the skinny blue-eyed one, in her Brooklyn kitchen was delightful.) Of course, Johnny Mathis took pride of place in the program, with almost half the numbers coming from his songbook (though several could have been just as appropriately included in the Sinatra section), ranging from “That Old Black Magic” to “In the Wee Small Hours” to “Small World” (though she assured the audience that Mathis never played Madame Rose). The singer’s mix of sly humor and straight-forward comments made for a winning combination.

The Sinatra section included “How Little We Know,” which allowed Leone to really swing, and “The Very Thought of You,” which was an opportunity for deep-felt romanticism. Throughout, the diva combined her powerhouse voice with a delicate touch on the lyrics, displaying a mature understanding of each song she offered up. Tony Bennett’s fine collection of tunes was referenced in yet another opportunity to swing with “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and to move the audience with the hopefully romantic “I Walk a Little Faster.”

Between these segments, Leone paid tribute to the lesser known Bobby Caldwell, a wonderful jazz performer and songwriter. A terrific song entitled “Tomorrow” (not the one sung by that redheaded tyke), co-written by Caldwell and Henry Marx, gave the diva a chance to show her skill with a torch number, and oh, did she light that flame.

Throughout the evening, great support was provided by music director Bill Zeffiro, who also supplied a dry and often humorously arch commentary, ranging from his own encounter with Bennett to the availability of the star’s CDs after the show. The duo’s fencing was a definite element in the fun of the show. The other participants on stage (John Miller on bass, Mitch Endick on tenor sax and flute, and Chip Fabrizi on drums) certainly contributed flawless support. This was a joyous occasion thanks to all.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."