Ann Kittredge: Romantic Notions

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Ann Kittredge

Romantic Notions

May 30, 2024

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Charming cabaret chanteuse Ann Kittredge has released the new, bright, and enchanting CD, Romantic Notions. With arrangements mostly by Christopher Denny and Barry Kleinbort that are by turn joyous or moody, and are played by nine musicians in various combinations, this CD is a wonderful exploration of love songs from both the worlds of pop and theater, produced with his usual class and clarity by Paul Rolnick.

“I Just Called to Say I Love You” (Stevie Wonder) kicks off the album with sheer joy. Kittredge celebrates the lyrics and the emotions behind them, and the swinging arrangement is designed to enhance her approach. “I Feel the Earth Move” (Carole King) gets a very sultry treatment that has Kittredge slithering through a late-night seductive mood. A somewhat surprising song for a romance album, “Mr. Tambourine Man” (Bob Dylan), is transformed into a sad ballad of sweet longing; it’s highly impressive.

“You’re My Home” (Billy Joel) is the  second ballad; it’s filled with warmth and a suggestion of sensuality. This track also shows off Kittredge’s fine acting talents. Teasing kittenishly is another part of her personality, charmingly displayed on “I Just Want to Dance with You.”  This one has a clever dance arrangement by Denny that will get any listener’s feet tapping.

One of the less well-known songs on the album is “Where’ve You Been” (Donald H. Henry/Jonathan B. Vezner). It sounds like a classic folk song and tells of a long-lasting marriage, and Kittredge performs it with vocal purity and great emotion. Moving on to several selections from musical theater, we begin with “Garden” (Lynn Ahrens/Stephen Flaherty), which exploits her lovely soprano range. It’s a touching song of a love that continues after death. This is a truly magical moment as she finds all the dramatic potential in this wonderful song.

A surprise, not because the song is unknown but because it is so well known but completely reconsidered here, “Together (Wherever We Go)” (Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim). It is transformed from a brassy trio into a sweet nursery rhyme complete with a music-box instrumental arrangement and showis Kittredge at her most tender. “I Just Wanted You to Know” is a funky rendition of a flavorsome and witty Steven Lutvak lyric that allows the singer to be loose and sexy.

Returning to a straightforward love song, albeit one with a definite country twang, is “There You Are” (Darnell White), which proves that Kittredge can express emotions in all genres of pop music. The pop classic “Didn’t We” (Jimmy Webb) is filled with regret and heartbreak. Much of it is almost whispered by Kittredge; it’s unlike than the more bombastic versions we have heard, and that makes it all the more moving. To bring this highly romantic album to a close, Kittredge turns once more to Broadway for the immensely moving title song by Keith Herrmann and Barry Harman from their lovely show Romance/Romance. It’s a celebration of long-lasting relationships, here given a life-affirming delivery by Kittredge.

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."

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