Tiffany Bailey: Back to Nostalgia

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Tiffany Bailey

Back to Nostalgia

Feinstein’s at Vitello’s, Studio City, CA, November 20, 2021

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach

Tiffany Bailey

Tiffany Bailey is a vivacious singer who clearly enjoys herself on a stage and makes it easy for listeners to share her pleasure. In her latest show, Bailey was all bubbly effervescence as she put present-day anxieties aside and transported her audience back through popular songs from the final decades of the past century.  

She offered a swinging “Love Will Keep Us Together” (Neil Sedaka/Howard Greenfield), abetted on piano and vocals by music director Bill Cantos on piano.  She also delivered a high-energy take on “It’s a Sunshine Day” (Steve McCarthy), and impressed on a six-and-a-half-minute medley of 27 songs chosen, she said, from “the thousands” she went through putting the show together; here she demonstrated an impressive ability to switch tempos and moods quickly.

While excelling on up-tempo numbers, Bailey also did a terrific job conveying tenderness in “Rhythm of the Rain” (John Claude Gummoe) with lovely accompaniment from Cantos; a delicate, haunting take on “Love Will Lead You Back” (Diane Warren); and a powerful, declarative “Goodbye” (Brian Mashburn)—a “get lost” song designed, she said, to rid herself of negative memories of high school.

She saluted her father, trumpet player Alan “Buddy” Bailey, with “L.A. Song,” which he wrote 20 years ago, but which she said had never been played or sung publicly. It’s a soft, swinging tribute extolling the area’s geography and weather sung in a comfortable groove. She also sang Bart Howard’s “In Other Words” (“Fly Me to the Moon”) as a sweet, heartfelt tribute to her late mother, Sally, with effective solo accompaniment by Dori Amarilio on guitar.

Besides Cantos and Amarilio, Bailey received strong support from Trey Henry on bass and Garrett Morris on drums, along with vocal harmonies from back-up singers Kevin Kennard and Todd Honeycutt, who stood alongside Bailey on doo-wop medleys from the 1950s and 1960s and a smashing version of the “Theme from Happy Days” (Norman Gimbel/Charles Fox).

Bailey started a beautiful rendition of “Top of the World” (Richard Carpenter/John Bettis) in a sweet, full-throated performance that sadly devolved—in a nod to the show’s nostalgia theme—into a polka-tempo version in the style of Lawrence Welk, complete with Cantos adding an accordion sound on synthesizer and Kennard blowing bubbles.

The entertaining, fast-paced show was directed by Keri Kelsey.

Elliot Zwiebach

Elliot Zwiebach loves the music of The Great American Songbook and classic Broadway, with a special affinity for Rodgers and Hammerstein. He's been a professional writer for 45 years and a cabaret reviewer for five. Based in Los Angeles, Zwiebach has been exposed to some of the most talented performers in cabaret—the famous and the not-so-famous—and enjoys it all. Reviewing cabaret has even pushed him into doing some singing of his own — a very fun and liberating experience that gives him a connection with the performers he reviews.