Photo Credit: Janis Wilkins

Steve Ross
How Do You Like Your Love
Birdland Jazz
February 18, 2019, 7PM

Seeing Steve Ross perform is like having a great dessert.  You’re afraid it’s too rich, it’s too much, it’s too good…and you want more!

In “How Do You Like Your Love?A Post-Valentine Cabaret, Ross takes us to the other side of the heart.  The non-romantic, harsh, sometimes cruel opposite of the perfect Valentine.  Now, if you’re one of the 3 people in New York who have not seen Steve Ross perform there are some things you should know. One: He is classy, elegant, witty and a bit wicked.  Two: Even if you’ve heard the song 100 times before, you will experience the lyric as if you’ve never heard them at all. Three:  You are going on a ride that will have you laughing when you thought you’d cry, crying when you thought you’d laugh, and surprised in ways you were never expecting.

On this particular outing we were not disappointed.  With sparkling patter that had both humor and pathos, the show was filled with re-imagined songs of “un-love” by legendary composers (Gershwin, Porter, Sondheim, Bacharach, etc). His opening number,  What Do You Get When You Fall in Love? was a perfect example of this. Ross’ interpretation of this well-known Burt Bacharach song had me wondering if I had ever truly heard the lyrics at all.  And, in Buddy’s Blues (Sondheim) Ross found every moment of humor, and desperation, and molded it all in this showstopping rendition.

In both It Never Entered My Mind and Falling in Love with Love (Rodgers & Hart) what struck me most was that while Ross gave heartfelt interpretations of these fragile pieces, he never dissolved into self-pity.  This is a trap that many singers fail to circumvent, but one that Ross navigates with ease. Never a hint of pity and yet we perceive the pain and despair he is feeling, and valiantly trying to get through.

Into several songs, Ross inserted piano solos.  And, in these he not only displayed a commanding musicality and bravura aptitude at the piano, but the interludes themselves were every bit as emotionally filled and moving as was his singing.  The most impressive example of this was a heart-retching and delightful medley in tribute to the great Edith Piaf, played with intensity of emotion that certainly did the great lady proud.  It was yet another of his many show stopping moments.

Whether in the wit of Down in the Depths on the 20th Floor (Porter), the outright hilarity of Say We’re Sweethearts Again (Brent), or the haunting arrangement of I Don’t Remember You (Kander and Ebb), coupled with The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (MacColl), and the poignant portrayal of Old Friend (Cryer), Ross did not make a single mis-step.  The evening was a joyous poke at the darker side of love, or “un-love.” And, however you look at it, this valentine was an evening full of laughter and thoughtful reflection, at the hands of a master.  Steve Ross is a true cabaret icon, who should be at the top of everyone’s go-see list.

For more information on Steve Ross’ performance schedule please visit his website.