Scott Alan: Nothing More

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Scott Alan

Nothing More

Birdland, NYC, February 5, 2024

Review by Bart Greenberg

Scott Alan


Scott Alan doesn’t write “songs”; he writes succinct and flavorful short stories set to music. That is why he gravitates toward singers who are also fine actors, and he has an uncanny ability to attract the best performers to take part in his concerts and recordings. That is also why his show at Birdland—his first in six years—was such a glowing evening of beauty and emotion. In a celebration of the release of his newest CD Nothing More, a song cycle meditating upon many aspects of parenthood (based on his own experiences with his daughter), much of the evening was devoted to that material. But there were also samplings from his earlier work that added a nice variety of experiences to the program, though a few more humorous songs would have been welcome.

The evening began with Alan at the piano to deliver a very appropriate opening number for his return to Birdland, “I’m Coming Home to You.” He then ceded the instrument to Ben Cohn, not only a fine pianist and the arranger and orchestrator of all the numbers that evening. They were impressive in both their variety and their emotional content. The “band” (really an orchestra in quality of the sound they produced) included Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf on cello, Kiku Enomoto on violin, David Fallo on viola, Ryan McCausland on drums, Vivi Rama on bass, and Tim Basom on guitar. Kudos to them all.

With the next number, the parade of extremely talented singers began as each presented one song. Analise Scarpaci and Megan Dwinell blended two melodies—“Watch Me Soar” and “I’m a Star”—that covered familiar territory but had enough detail to make them fresh as their two soaring voices ignited them. The next selection was gentler but just as powerful with a less-common theme—“Blessing.” It was delivered by Diva LaMarr and Luke Islam with authenticity and pride for a very positive message about individuality. Two songs followed that both used classic fairy tales, one bitter and one positive, (smart programming) to explore personal needs. Talia Suskauer and Lindsay Heather Pearce (both having played Elphaba on Broadway) used their beautiful voices to bring intensity to “Once Upon a Time” and “Never Never Land (Fly Away).” Closing out this section was “Anything Worth Holding on To,” delivered by Cayleigh Capaldi, who was brought in to replace an ailing singer with little more than 24 hours warning, though if we had not been told, we never would have known.

To begin the second half of the show, Alan introduced the title track from his newest recording, Nothing More and ceding the touching ballad to the beautiful tenor of Mauricio Martinez. Shifting the mood, the delightful medley of “Something Is Missing,” “We’re Going to Be Dads,” and “Alex Vivian” was delivered with great humor and sentiment by Tommy Kaisar and Adams Roberts. The next number, “Best for You, Kid,” a song of gratitude between an adoptive parent and a birth mother, was indeed a unique concept. It was delivered with great feeling by Kate Shindle and Robin de Jesus. Jenn Gambatese offered a sweet, gentle, but realistic “Alex’s Lullaby.” This was countered by the comic complaint of parents who deal with an infant as Nic Rouleau and Jelani Remy defined “The Routine.” The gifted Christiane Noll sang the lovely “It’s All Up to You,” and Alyssa Fox followed with a pledge “For Always,” which gave the fine orchestra a chance to soar. Ginna Claire Mason, who seems to be a Kelli O’Hara in waiting, begged her child “Don’t Grow.” Then Alan finished the evening with “Because of You,” which expressed the emotional idea of a parent’s gratitude to their child. Overall, the evening was filled with fresh ideas and fresh talent. Hopefully Alan won’t stay away so long before he returns with a new set of songs

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."