Nicolas King: Winter in New York

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Nicolas King

Winter in New York

Chelsea Table + Stage, NYC, January 26, 2024

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Nicolas King
Photo: Stephen Sorokoff


With a mix of polish and charm, Nicolas King took the stage at Chelsea Table + Stage before an appreciative audience that was filled with celebrities of the cabaret world. The program contained a nice mix of standards and obscurities, featuring songs directly related to the theme of the show, Winter in New York. It was a lovely excursion by this jazz vocalist and crooner that featured a grouping of songs by Rodgers & Hart. In other words, it was smart cabaret and a pleasure to attend.

King kicked off the show with a terrific arrangement of “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York” (Gershwins) that built and built and built, expanding energy into the room. In sharp contrast his next selection was Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” sung with just piano accompaniment in a laid-back style that drew the audience to him. He repeated this trick to great effect in his encore, “The Things We Did Last Summer” (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne) To introduce the theme of the night of fighting off the winter blues came an upbeat medley of “Sleigh Ride” (Mitchell Parish/Leroy Anderson) and “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” (Irving Berlin), and the two standards blended beautifully. Following these was a lovely rarity, “Wintertime in Central Park” (Ken Laub/Bill Fayne) that surprisingly seemed to evoke Portia Nelson’s recording of “Sunday in New York” (Carroll Coates/Peter Nero).

All of these numbers were enriched by King’s excellent band, led by music director/pianist John Di Martino with Tom Hubbard on bass and David Hawkins on drums. Trios just don’t get better than this. Also adding to the fun was his guest star and often partner in crime, Seth Sikes. With some off-hand and slightly naughty chat, they set the mood for a sassy, swinging “The Joint Is Really Jumpin’” (Hugh Martin/Ralph Blane/Roger Edens) that was sheer fun.

In the middle of the program, King shifted gears to offer a mini concert of selections from the Rodgers & Hart songbook. He began with another pairing of a standard and a lesser-known number—“Manhattan” and “The Algonquin Hotel” (Duncan Lamott)—that evoked the much-missed Oak Room (especially with KT Sullivan in the audience) along with some apt shared memories about his going there as a young man This segued natural into King’s early audition song “Johnny One Note,” one of those numbers that feels like it should be a showstopper but rarely is; in King’s electrifying performance it definitely was. This was followed by a very easy “Isn’t It Romanic” (paired with its wry comic verse), and a high-energy “This Can’t Be Love” propelled by a solo bass accompaniment to start. What fun this evening was; hopefully King will be back in town soon.

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."