Rebecca Luker: Kern by the Queen
Jun20

Rebecca Luker: Kern by the Queen

Update jan. 7, 2014. Rebecca Luker’s performance on the PBS series The American Songbook at NJPAC is now airing in the New York area. Check this page and local listings for air times in your area. Rebecca Luker’s I Got Love: Songs of Jerome Kern Since Jerome Kern and, indirectly, Rebecca Luker are partly responsible for this website’s existence, I’m taking a moment for some extra background before diving into my review of...

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Pretty in Pink, Promising in Jazz
May04

Pretty in Pink, Promising in Jazz

Okay, here’s the big news: Molly Ringwald is not quite a jazz singer—not if she aspires to the command and confidence of her idols, like Ella Fitzgerald, or even to the stylistic distinction of her recent interview buddy Jane Monheit. But listening to Ringwald’s new album, Except … Sometimes, and trying to nail down which classic pop singer Ringwald most resembled, I got the distinct flavor on certain high, sustained notes of a quite...

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Songbook Suspect in Jazz’s Death
Jan16

Songbook Suspect in Jazz’s Death

A fine article in Salon by the L.A. arts writer Scott Timberg lays out the current state of jazz as a popular art form, and it ain’t pretty. The thing is, it hasn’t been pretty for about 50 years. As important as the term jazz is in the history of American music, the witless application of the word to everything from atonal electronic sound collages to traditional pop vocalists has hindered even a basic understanding, let alone an...

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Mary Cleere Haran (1952–2011)
Feb06

Mary Cleere Haran (1952–2011)

The cabaret world was stunned by the sudden death of Mary Cleere Haran on February 5 following a bike accident in Deerfield Beach, Florida, where the singer lived. Haran was struck by a car backing our of a driveway and never regained consciousness. Haran was a major star in the New York supper-club world and a respected authority on the American Songbook. She can be seen in the Michael Feinstein documentary The Great American...

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Michael Feinstein’s Songbook

Update, 2/7/11: See the NY Times article about Michael Feinstein’s collection and foundation here. If there’s a more dedicated and effective champion of America’s pop music heritage than Michael Feinstein, it’s hard to imagine whom it might be. Celebrated as a performer, historian, and now artistic director for and contributor to an Indiana performing-arts center that houses his collection of music memorabilia,...

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Margaret Whiting (1924–2011)

Margaret Whiting, the popular singer and recording star of the 40’s and 50’s who spent much of her later years performing in clubs and theatrical productions in New York, died on January 11. Whiting, though not a household name, had one of the most appealing tones and impressive musical pedigrees of the 20th century. She raised lots of eyebrows in later years for her marriage (admittedly based on compatibility and...

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