[Dixielandjazz] The "Music" of Fred Astaire

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 1 06:52:25 PST 2004

The audience, at least in NYC, would seem to be thirsting for GOOD MUSIC, if
the below is any indicator. And, no doubt these are young people attending
because as we know, few of us on the DJML go night clubbing any more.

Not even if Louis Armstrong was raised from the dead and appearing. :-) VBG

OKOM? Yes and it draws a YOUNG AUDIENCE. How about your band?

Steve Barbone

December 1, 2004 - MUSIC REVIEW - NY TIMES

A Jazzy Gloss on Astaire in Old New York By STEPHEN HOLDEN

Gliding against the Manhattan skyline in top hat and tails, his modest voice
suave and friendly, Fred Astaire may represent the ultimate antidote to an
agitated pop climate dominated by beat-driven boasts. That may be the reason
two superb tributes to Astaire are playing simultaneously: they're needed
for relief. 

The newer one, "Singing Astaire: A Fred Astaire Songbook," is a swift,
invigorating pop-jazz revue at Birdland. It reunites Eric Comstock, a
polished Astaire vocal acolyte and pianist, with the pop-jazz singer Hilary
Kole and with Christopher Gines, a curly-headed crooner with the vocal cream
of the early Sinatra. Together with Andrea Marcovicci's intensely romantic
tribute at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, the shows offer yin-yang
perspectives on a legend.

The approach of Mr. Comstock and his partners, who collaborated on the revue
"Our Sinatra," is more down to earth and jazzy. Mr. Comstock notes that in
1952 Astaire teamed with the pianist Oscar Peterson to record a classic jazz
album of the songs he made famous. As "Singing Astaire," directed by Michael
Bourne, glosses nearly 30 numbers, it avoids shuffling the performers into
stiff, uncomfortable poses that makes so many revues look like human puppet

The chemistry among the three singers (backed by bass and drums) is smooth
as a 1940's movie fantasy. Mr. Comstock, understated but articulate,
swinging but intelligent, and Ms. Kole, sexy with a sharp-edged hint of
brass in her voice, rub together much like Astaire and Ginger Rogers,
recalling Katharine Hepburn's remark about the duo that he gave her class
and she gave him sex.

Each of the three has an outstanding solo turn with many duets and trios in
between. Mr. Comstock's moody "Something's Gotta Give" finds the interior
life in a cheery summons to a romantic joust. Ms. Kole's "Night and Day"
locates the desperation and impatience lurking in Cole Porter's besotted
lyrics. And Mr. Gines builds "My Shining Hour" into a stately pop aria.

"Singing Astaire" culminates with a medley of songs about dancing that picks
up the show's pulse and musically ends it in a whirl of giddy but controlled
breathlessness, one foot off the ground.

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