[Dixielandjazz] Nostalgia

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 16 07:13:56 PST 2007

I thought Charlie Cochran was dead and am delighted to see that he is still
performing. Last saw him in NYC in the 1960s. If you are in NYC this month,
his show is with a visit. Mixes swinging jazz, stories and wit if this
review is accurate. And why not? That's what Cochran was doing 50 years ago.

Steve Barbone

Stories Set the Scene for Vintage Songs

NY TIMES - STEPHEN HOLDEN - November 16, 2007

Charles Cochran is one of the best of a vanishing breed. Now celebrating his
50th year as a saloon performer, the singer, pianist and raconteur is a
storehouse of show business lore as well as a musician who elevates a
sophisticated piano-bar tradition synonymous with Bobby Short as close to a
high art as it can get.

Since 1987, Mr. Cochran has lived in semi-retirement in West Palm Beach,
Fla., but he makes periodic return visits to New York, his old stomping
ground. And on Wednesday he appeared at the Metropolitan Room, the first of
four Wednesday evening performances of his new show ³A Song That Keeps
Saying, Remember.² Steve Doyle accompanies on bass, and David Silliman plays

For Mr. Cochran, every song prompts a story. And his scene-setting
monologues, related slowly with artfully chosen details, are as captivating
as the often little-known show tunes, movie songs and vintage pop arcana he
interprets with a dry knowingness through which glimmers a warmhearted
nostalgia. Crooning Irving Berlin¹s ³You Keep Coming Back Like a Song,² at
the end of Wednesday¹s show, he conveyed an astonishing tenderness in a
voice reminiscent of the reflective Peter Allen.

Much of the show revolves around his recollections of four women ‹ Judy
Garland, Anita O¹Day, Lena Horne and Jane Wyman ‹ all of whom he knew, some
better than others. The most vivid anecdotes concern Garland, his occasional
roommate in New York with whom he caroused in the late 1960s.

Unlike most of his ilk, Mr. Cochran can really swing, and he confidently
blurs the line between piano-bar politesse and jazz without compromising his
aura of slightly detached, old-school urbanity. He dived successfully into
early rhythm-and-blues with ³Saturday Night Fish Fry,² a 1949 hit for Louis
Jordan and His Tympany Five about a gin-soaked New Orleans party that lands
the storyteller in jail.

It all comes down to taste. Mr. Cochran doesn¹t choose his material merely
because the songs are little known. They have to be worth the effort, and
they almost always are. May his return visits to New York be more frequent.

Charles Cochran continues through Dec. 5 at the Metropolitan Room, 34 West
22nd Street, Flatiron district; (212) 206-0440. 

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