[Dixielandjazz] Marcovicci Sings Mercer
Stephen G Barbone
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Thu Nov 26 08:42:59 PST 2009
Folks visiting New York City might wish to check this venue out. The
Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel is a legendary venue for us older
music lovers. When I was a kid, trying to impress young ladies, with
my urbane wit, we would go to the early show in places like this to
hear the American Songbook tunes, and then visit a jazz joint on 52nd
Street, or in Greenwich Village.
Heady times and the Oak Room perpetuates the nostalgia.
BTW, it was the Algonquin Hotel that hosted the"vicious circle"
roundtable, a group of writers and actors that met daily there from
about 1919 to 1929. Attendees included Dorothy Parker, Robert
Benchley, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman, Alexander Woollcott, Heywood
Broun, Harpo Marx and many others over the years.
November 26, 2009 - NY TIMES - by Stephen Holden
Ever a Huckleberry Friend, Come Rain or Come Shine
To attend an Andrea Marcovicci cabaret show is to participate in a
communal rite in which it is tacitly understood — at least during the
duration of the performance — that nothing today can match the magic
and romance of old Hollywood and Broadway. An audience of a certain
age agrees to gorge retrospectively on the illusions of youth from an
era long before the proliferation of viral gossip and reality
television. As the ceremonial priestess, Ms. Marcovicci plays a grand,
smiling Hollywood hostess — a Loretta Young-like figure — throwing
open doors to a rose-colored mythology.
Her new show, “Skylark: Marcovicci Sings Mercer,” at the Oak Room of
the Algonquin Hotel, a tribute to the songwriter Johnny Mercer, who
would have turned 100 on Nov. 18 (Ms. Marcovicci turned 61 the same
day), should perpetuate her reign as the queen of high-class cabaret
nostalgia. At the opening-night show last week, Ms. Marcovicci, who is
celebrating her 23rd year at the Oak Room, once again worked her wiles
as a show-business medium channeling Olympian spirits. Mercer may have
had a drinking problem — when in his cups, she said, he once told
Irving Berlin that he “couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag” —
but it was a minor quirk in her otherwise hagiographic account of his
Accompanied by Shelly Markham on piano and Jered Egan on bass, she
sang and acted Mercer songs (he wrote mostly lyrics), from “Skylark”
to “My Shining Hour,” with the emotional intensity of a precocious
teenager quiveringly alive in the fantasy of the song. As usual Ms.
Marcovicci seasoned the standards with interesting obscurities. One
was Mercer’s first published song, “Out of Breath (and Scared to Death
of You”), with music by Everett Miller, from the 1930 show “The
The hard-headed “Gettin’ a Man” (music by Harold Arlen) from the 1959
show “Saratoga” is a woman’s description of the rigors of courtship:
With eager stares
They buy your wares
As samples you unpack.
They even pay
Can send the merchandise back.
Ms. Marcovicci’s singing, as always, was problematic. If you closed
your eyes and simply listened, her voice was wobbly, her phrasing
uncertain. But the spectacle of Ms. Marcovicci in elegant regalia,
fluttering her hands, clasping her chest, tilting her head back and
gazing dreamily into space, made you ignore all that. The spell was
cast, the elixir consumed.
“Skylark: Marcovicci Sings Mercer” runs through Dec. 26 at the Oak
Room of the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, Manhattan; (212)
More information about the Dixielandjazz