Tonight artists come to us from home studios and shuttered clubs to keep the music going. Some were in the room with accompanists, others ZOOMED in – Carole Bufford’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” (Paul Simon) was skillfully shot by husband Gio Molla in autumn woods to which she raised arms in celebration. Best-sixties-ever-accompanist Peter Calo played guitar from his studio. A few shared messages of support and encouragement. Iris Williams commended Palm Springs California’s The Purple Room for manufacturing masks, then offered perhaps eight bars a capella.
Highlights: Sequestered in California, one of our finest writers, Amanda McBroom presented “Just in Case,” the debut of a song co-authored by Portia Nelson : Just remember that life loves surprises/And God’s favorite word is “wow”/And today’s not the day to put off till tomorrow/ Things you need to tell somebody now. Wise words sincerely offered. In St. Louis, Jennifer Sheehan beguiled with “Time Flies” (Jimmy Webb.) Performance was thoughtful, warm, and, despite the odds, intimate.
Christian Holder delivered Noel Coward’s “If Love Were All” (David Clement-Simon, piano) at London’s Pizza Express. Highly mannered interpretation undoubtedly would’ve pleased Sir Noel, tremolo and all. Opera singer Hans Pieter Herman (splendidly accompanied by Brian Holman wearing pajamas) performed Noel Coward’s “Nina” personifying the nearly extinct quality “droll.” Interpretations of “Optimistic Voices” (charming) and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (the latter bravely a capella) came to us from an ardent Maureen McGovern.
Also featuring: Tim Draxl in The Sydney Opera House whose “from Our House to Yours” Cabaret Series can be found on their site. (Daniel Edmond, piano); Tammy McCann from Chicago with a heartfelt version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send In the Clowns” (David Scott, jazz guitar); Nicolas King rendering a playful, swing version of “Rhode Island is Famous for You” (Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz) accompanied by the great Mike Renzi; Leanne Borghesi in San Francisco belting an outsized “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”(Lew Brown/Buddy DeSylva.) Russell Deason, piano.
Avery Sommers from Palm Beach, Florida with John Kander/Fred Ebb’s “Maybe This Time” (Phil Hinton, piano); “Carefully Taught”/“You’ll Never Walk Alone” (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II) oddly intruded upon by the repeated phrase “Do you have the courage to love somebody?” presented by Beckie McKenzie and Tom Michael in Chicago’s Davenport’s; the excellent Joie Bianco, at the University of Miami, with what seemed a lovely version of “We’ll Be Together Again” (Carl T. Fischer/ Frankie Laine) unfortunately muffled by her mask. Eric Stern, piano.
Deborah Silver, introduced by three American Songbook radio personalities sounding very like a promo for her new CD, submitted an over-produced video of a country-western take on George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” (The rustic arrangement had personality; musicians were very fine.)
Josie Foster, winner of this year’s Jim and Elizabeth Sullivan Scholarship out of Oklahoma performed “The More I See You” (Harry Warren/Mack Gordon). Foster has a floaty soprano, but the arrangement was partly jaunty and she didn’t follow suit.
Youngsters Jaedyn Hanna and Colindra-Rodericka McGarvy, chosen respectively from the 2019 and 2020 Cayman Islands Festival, sent video from there. Hanna, who performed at Rose Hall last year, enacted “One Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man” (Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden and Adolph Green) with burgeoning theatricality. She’s now in her second year at Berklee School of Music. McGarvy proffered the alas, not very melodic “Shadowland” with the soul of a spiritual anthem. (This scholarship supported by Christel Ibsen and her husband Bob Loverd)
The evening ended with footage of indomitable Marilyn Maye (MD/piano, Billy Stritch) performing at Minneapolis’ Crooners even now, during the pandemic. Maye sang three uplifting signature songs- her self-avowed mantra, “It’s Today” (Jerry Herman), “The Secret of Life” (Gretchen Peters), and “Here’s to Life!” (Artie Butler/Phyllis Molinary): No complaints and no regrets/I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets/But I had learn that all you give is all you get/So give it all you got… If anyone can instill a “carpe diem” attitude in our lives, it’s Maye. Wowza.