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Don’t Tell Mama – January 5th

Songbook was described as a show that celebrates great music from the worlds of jazz and Broadway and, in fact, singer Lainie Munro in her opening welcome patter run mentioned that she was from a theater/Broadway background with guitarist Matt Wolfe being the jazz cat. They said the show was celebrating how they came together in their diversity in music.

This was an APAP (Association of Performing Arts Professionals) showcase, so there was an energy to “sell” the show, that may not have been there in a regular cabaret show. (See my most recent Sue’s Views posting on APAP.) This energy pervaded the performance. Munro smiles big and beautifully, but perhaps should not smile through a ballad. And she often looks out and sings to a 4th wall, overplaying the intimacy of the song, which played in a strange contrast to the “cool jazz dudes” that were Matt and the band (Leo Smith & Derek Wilson).

Wolfe is a phenomenal musician. His solos, particularly on “Alfie”, were stunning. He has little to say on stage with Munro being very personable and more of the host of the show, reminiscent of The Captain and Tennille.

While a few tunes were from early Broadway shows, now largely adopted into The Great American Songbook, On Broadway (Lieber & Stoller), My Romance (Rodgers & Heart), Blue Skies (Irving Berlin), and some jazz standards like Scotch n’ Soda (attr: Kingston Trio), for my taste, there were not enough big “Broadway” songs, which is what I wanted to hear Munro sing. She did perform “Fascinating Rhythm”, lifting her gown to her knees, and impressively “trading” tap rhythms with the drummer.

Munro attempted to sing in a more jazz inflected, laid back style. But her Broadway sensibilities seemed to get the best of her. Because of this, Moon River (Mercer, Mancini), as a waltz, was less successful. Her timing was a bit off and it pushed the phrasing. A jazz waltz is coolest when delivered as laid back as possible.

Where the Duo was very successful with the Bossa tunes, they were “in the pocket” and Munro shined on I’ll Never Fall in Love Again (Bacharach) …a show tune from Promises, Promises.

Both Matt and Lainie are both very talented, but the execution of concept for their show didn’t work. The Broadway meets Jazz concept, if that is was what they were going for, needs to find a better synergy, and become two parts that make an even greater whole. In it’s current incarnation, however, it sometimes seemed like two different shows, two very different levels, deliveries, and energies.