Review: Marilyn Maye “By Request”

Marilyn-Maye-Headshot

Ella Fitzgerald once called Marilyn Maye “the greatest white female singer in the world.” That’s no exaggeration; she may be the only singer alive who combines a great vocal instrument with interpretative flair and savoir faire equal to Ella’s own. I can think of no other living singer who possesses Maye’s combination of interpretive ability, rhythmic verve, and vocal range – at 86, her voice is the envy of singers 40 years her junior.

She’s also a “saloon singer”, a singer who has a fantastic rapport with her audience, singing them beloved songs from a startlingly wide variety of genres. These shows at the Metropolitan Room take full advantage of this facet of her talent. Marilyn asks her audience to pick her “Marilyn By Request” set list by making song suggestions when making their reservations. It makes for an evening filled with surprises, and plenty of energy from both sides of the footlights.

Musical director Billy Stritch – a frequent foil for the likes of Liza Minnelli and Christine Ebersole – is the perfect match for this footloose kind of approach, combining a broad knowledge of popular music with snappy, sophisticated jazz chops. Maye exquisitely tailors her style of singing to the individual song, smooth for the ballads, swinging for the standards, and truly gritty for the bluesier numbers. And always, always fully at home in – and totally committed to – the music.

Maye appeared on Johnny Carson’s edition of “The Tonight Show” a total of 76 times, a record not likely ever to be beaten by any other singer with any other host – the night I went she sang a version of “I Will Survive” that she premiered with Carson. If you love songs of every kind sung like they’re meant to be sung, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

For tickets, click here.

To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.

Review: Marilyn Maye

Marilyn Maye 2013

“The Marvelous Marilyn Maye” – it’s a phase that me and my husband have come to say with relish, and we get excited every time we get to see her. Ella Fitzgerald once called Maye “the greatest white female singer in the world”, and I can tell you that’s no exaggeration. There are younger singers who have more powerful voices, but I can think of no other singer who possesses Maye’s combination of interpretive ability, rhythmic verve and vocal range, still the envy of singers many years her junior.

Her new show at 54 Below, “Maye-den Voyage”, features many of her signature songs, including “Golden Rainbow” and “It’s Today”. Her repertoire for the evening ranges from a stunning version of “My Ship” from Lady in the Dark and a dazzling New York medley to a rip-roaring “Blues in the Night”, and even Dave Brubeck’s big hit “Take Five”.

Maye exquisitely tailors her style of singing to the individual song, smooth for the ballads, swinging for the standards, and truly gritty for the bluesier numbers. This is a classic act in every sense of the phrase. Maye is a jazz-pop singer worthy of being included in the company of Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn or Blossom Dearie (whose “Bye Bye Country Boy” she pairs with “Lazy Afternoon”), and her phrasing is the finest I’ve heard in that style from a living singer.

Maye appeared on Johnny Carson’s edition of “The Tonight Show” a total of 76 times, a record not likely ever to be beaten by any other singer with any other host. She’s been enjoying a New York renaissance, making critically acclaimed appearances all over town. If you love classic songs sung like they’re meant to be sung, it doesn’t get any better than this.

For tickets, click here.

Review: Marilyn Maye

Ella Fitzgerald once called Marilyn Maye “the greatest white female singer in the world.” I’ve now seen her several times in cabarets, and I can tell you that’s no exaggeration. There are younger singers who might posses more powerful voices, but I can think of no other singer who possesses Maye’s combination of interpretive ability, rhythmic verve and vocal range, still the envy of singers many years her junior.

Her new show at Feinstein’s, “The Happiest Sound in Town”, features many of her her signature songs, including “Golden Rainbow” and “You’re Gonna Hear From Me”, a personal favorite of mine. This is a classic act in every sense of the phrase. Maye is a jazz-pop singer worthy of being included in the company of Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn or Blossom Dearie, and her phrasing is the finest I’ve heard in that style from a living singer.

Her repertoire for the evening ranges from Shaiman & Wittman’s “Butter Outta Cream” from Catch Me if You Can and a dazzling New York medley to “When I’m In Love” by her mentor Steve Allen, and even Mama Cass’s big hit “Make Your Own Kind of Music”. Maye exquisitely tailors her style of singing to the individual song, smooth for the ballads, swinging for the standards, and truly gritty for the bluesier numbers.

Maye appeared on Johnny Carson’s edition of “The Tonight Show” a total of 76 times, a record not likely ever to be beaten by any other singer with any other host. She’s been enjoying a New York renaissance recently, making critically acclaimed appearances all over town. If you love classic songs sung like they’re meant to be sung, it doesn’t get any better than this.

For tickets, click here.

To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.