When Danny Bacher sings “I Love Being Here with You” (Peggy Lee/William Schluger/additional lyrics Danny Bacher) he really means it. Few artists exude such palpable pleasure in performing. High spirited ease makes him as welcome as an old family friend.
From recent CD, Still Happy, his own “In Spite of All This, I’m Still Happy” combines 50s style with 2020s lyrics. Parlando segues to scatted conversation between a boy and girl. When Bacher scats, he moves – bends, sways, tilts a shoulder, and comes close to fingering – as if his sax were in hand. An instrumental “Cloudy”/“Nuages” also from the CD, arrives soulfully amblin’ down the road, tuneful, evocative, smooth (Bix Beiderbecke/Django Reinhardt).
The musician is something of a throwback, appreciating and presenting material from earlier eras as if yesterday, wearing “cool” as naturally as dapper threads. (Check out the shoes!) From whom else might one hear Nat King Cole’s “The Best Man?” …The way it all turned out/ There was no doubt/ That I was best man in the end/ Yes/ I was the best man/ When she married my best friend…
“Dream a Little Dream”…with me…(Fabian Andre/Wilbur Schwandt/ Gus Kahn) and “Honeysuckle Rose” (Andy Razaf/Fats Waller) are pristine. Even Bacher’s horn embroidery sticks to the songs’ appealing vertebrae. Swing is cozy and swaying.
Underused guests Dawn Derow and Lianne Marie Dobbs respectively join Bacher for brief versions of “Something Stupid” (C. Carson Parks) and “Slow Boat to China” (Frank Loesser). Established talent is only glimpsed. Dobbs, in particular, playfully weighs in with Bacher’s ad libbing which could’ve been showcased in duet. Later the ladies provide back-up for a classic, tandem “Just a Gigolo” (Leonello Casucci/Irving Caesar/Julius Brammer) and “I Ain’t Got Nobody” (Roger A. Graham/Spencer Williams). Voices are swell, but the arrangement is lacking.
Songs like “Hard Hearted Hannah” (Jack Yellin/Milton Ager/Bob Bigalow/ Charles Bates) with wah-wah and warble added to horn riffs and the traditional, languid “St. James Infirmary” evidence comfortable lilt. Bacher has a feel for Crescent City music and might consider a show of material like that which Dr. Michael White presents.
It’s worth noting that Danny Bacher writes pretty damn good lyrics. His signature, updated “Hooray for Hollywood” is wry and on target (Richard Whiting/Johnny Mercer/additional lyrics Danny Bacher).
The artist’s modest swagger and wholehearted connection is as appealing as his talent.
Photos by John Williams
An Evening with Danny Bacher– Congenial Swing
MD/Piano -Jason Teborak
Guest Vocalists: Dawn Derow, Lianne Marie Dobbs
The Beach Café
1326 Second Ave (at 70th St)
February 22, 2020