[Dixielandjazz] Here's Tp Life - Barbara Cook at 83 at Feinsteins NYC.

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Jun 11 08:18:38 PDT 2011

A great show by a wonderful lady. Don't miss it if in the New York  
City area.

Steve Barbone

Looking Back on Love and Loss, With an Eye on More to Come


“Here’s to life/And dreamers and their dreams,” sighed Barbara Cook,  
spinning out the word “dreams” so that it lingered like the glow on  
the horizon after a spectacular sunset.

Although almost every performer over a certain age seems to have  
adopted “Here’s to Life,” by Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary, as the  
summing-up anthem of a life lived largely on the stage, no one lends  
it more depth and tenderness than Ms. Cook. Singing it near the end of  
her new show, “You Make Me Feel So Young,” on Wednesday evening at  
Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, she gently led it over the rainbow.

The lessons imparted by “Here’s to Life” are certainly familiar. The  
phrase “all you give is all you get,” expresses pretty much the same  
sentiment as the Beatles’ “in the end the love you take is equal to  
the love you make.”

But when Ms. Cook delivered it in a tone of wistful certainty,  
emphasizing “all,” it became personalized; all meant all, a huge  
expenditure of energy over a lifetime, holding nothing back.

This is what Ms. Cook, now 83, does with songs, especially ballads.  
Her voice may not be the glorious soprano of old. But because she is  
profoundly invested in what she sings, the lyrics increasingly take  
precedence over the melodies. It’s not that she has lost her voice;  
far from it. But it has lowered and diminished in volume.

The show’s spare arrangements, featuring her great accompanist, Lee  
Musiker, gave her ample space both to ruminate and to swing freely.  
His pianistic punctuation helped shape each song into a statement.  
Filling out her quartet were Jay Leonhart on bass, Warren Odze on  
percussion and Steve Kenyon on woodwinds.

“You Make Me Feel So Young,” 13 of whose 16 songs Ms. Cook said she  
had never performed before, is a show about aging, sex, regret,  
triumph, love and loss, all contemplated from the point of view of a  
mature woman who is not ready to drop out of the game. Two key  
ballads, “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face” and “When I Look in Your  
Eyes,” examine the comfort and sadness of intimate long-term  
relationships. Two others, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “I’m a  
Fool to Want You,” describe being in the grip of erotic obsession, and  
Ms. Cook sings them from the perspective of someone who has come  
through the fire, remembers its flames all too clearly but still  
flirts with the possibility of approaching the inferno one last time.

The jauntier numbers, including “Wait Till We’re 65,” “Are You Havin’  
Any Fun?” “Love Is Good for Anything That Ails You,” “I Got Rhythm”  
and the show’s title song, look squarely at the challenges of old age  
and recommend various defenses. High on the list are a sense of humor  
and the courage to take chances. No. 1 is love.

Attending a Barbara Cook concert nowadays is like consulting an  
oracle. She’ll advise you, to the best of her knowledge, on how to  
proceed. From there on, it’s up to you.

Barbara Cook continues through next Saturday at Feinstein’s at Loews  
Regency, 540 Park Avenue, at 61st Street; (212) 339-4095,  

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