Reviews for JAZZ STANDARDS with a Twist
As reviewed by JOHN HOGLUND
ATER DARK NYC
Clark Warren: A Man of Quality - And Spunk
Aristotle said: “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.”
That self-proclaimed “Lucky So & So,” Clark Warren's new show, Jazz & Standards With A Twist opened with considerable hoopla and a full house at the Metropolitan Room recently (and returns on May 30.) Mr. Warren is a class act. He is a man of quality – and spunk. This senior has a long way to go. And, he'll do it with a twist.
Recalling some familiar standards fused with genuine rarities, Mr. Warren embraces a genre and style we'll never see again. It was the age that offered the likes of boy singers running the gamut from Tex Beneke, Russ Columbo, Woody Herman, Jack Teagarten, Dick Hyman, Bobby Darin and their ilk to big bands that produced even bigger stars like Basie, Crosby, Ellington and Sinatra. All this preceded a few of today's contemporary vocalists who favor standards like Buble' and Connick, Jr. The show was all under the truly brilliant jazz-hot guidance of musicians Dan Furman on piano, Jon Burr on bass and Dave Meade on drums. Their dynamic jazz riffs caused several spontaneous outbursts of applause throughout the show.
Now, the handsome, white haired Mr. Warren is of a certain age and in spite of a classic debonair appearance and suave manner, has a terrific youthful sense of humor and thoroughly entertained the crowd throughout the set filled with musical surprises. At a time when so many cabaret shows are organized around strict thematic concepts, it takes a certain spunk to buck the trend and reflect on a lifetime of singing tunes from his past and finding hidden, lost or some new treasures to present. That spunk may be his greatest gift. By its very nature, cabaret is a mixed bag with deep roots in classic standards that came from the golden age of song – and before. Clark carries this mix off with aplomb in a style that's largely missing in the nightclubs today. The results were one heckuva quality (the keyword here)show. But, because he lacks the seemingly requisite youth that seems to grab the eyes of many critics, he will surely be overlooked when awards are passed out by the self-anointed experts or assorted screening committees and such. The truth is in terms of “quality cabaret,” Clark Warren's latest show has all the ingredients that go into the finest, award winning shows in cabaret. And, it's not about the voice. He has a supple, lived-in baritone. In fact, if truth be told, while lacking the obvious cache', his vocals are better than Bobby Short's in his latter years (though, in fairness, Mr. Short suffered medical problems that faltered his singing at times.) However, Warren projected an off-kilter musical blend of knowledgeable sophistication, fine phrasing and class that was smooth; one that newcomers could learn from. Early on, he notes that “ … everybody has a different version of what cabaret is … it's real … a heightened form of communication.” This leads into his very jazzy rendition of James Taylor's Mean Old Man, a decidedly odd surprise from one who specializes in songs from the distant past (Mean Old Man is from Taylor's 2002 album October Road.)It proves to be a fun choice and a crowd pleaser. He then segues into the finger snapping Centerpiece by two greats from the last century: Harry (“Sweets”) Edison and Jon Hendricks (who is now 92 years old.) The contrast in the two songs is fascinating. A little explanation of this vast diversity might be welcome as both songs are not well known and decades apart.
Other highlights from the eclectic set include an effective, hot reading of Summertime (Gershwin-DuBose) that featured red hot solos from all members of the trio played against Warren's very cool, laid back delivery on this. This is the evening's highlight. What Are You Afraid Of ? (Segal-Wells) is a seldom heard rarity with warm vocals. Bassist Jon Burr's original Sea Breeze was given a mellow bossa beat that was was infectious. Closing with John Pizzarelli's I Like To Recognize The Tune proves to be quite the winner and turned into a rousing hand clapper.
This show is filled with hidden gems that make it all worthwhile. Let's hope Warren has more cabaret exposure. At times he is quite serious about his work. Other times, he can be an ebullient jazz cut up who doesn't blame it on his youth. He owns who he is and enjoys it – a lucky so and so.
Clark Warren returns to the Metropolitan Room on May 30 at 7:00.
As reviewed by ELIZBETH AHLFORS
Clark Warren is dapper and silver-haired with a hip jazz knack to his music. Early in the show, he announced he is now officially a “geezer.” If “geezer” means tangy and provocative, we’ll take it. Yes, his lines are clipped, but Clark Warren delivers a show that’s his own style and designed to entertain.
With an emphatic punch to his phrasing, this affable “lucky so-and-so” selects an intriguing lineup of tunes that are rhythmic yet he brings out the lyrics with a cool savvy and well-earned maturity. Warren does not sing your momma’s version of “Summertime” (the Gershwins and DuBose Heyward.) The phrasing is snappy, both sweet and growly, a West Coast jazz jive heightened with Warren’s harmonica and Jon Burr’s smooth dissonance on bass. A tender rendition of “Nancy” (Jimmy Van Heusen and Phil Silvers) paired with a softly swinging “That Face” by Lew Spence and Alan Bergman was particularly touching.
James Taylor’s “Mean Old Man” is a meandering look within (“I was a mean old man/I was an ornery cus” but then celebrates a new turn with, “Who gets a second chance/Who gets to have some fun/Who gets to learn to dance before his race is run?”)
Warren brings an enthusiastic spirit to his songs, but also a know-how of getting the phrasing down. Bobby Troupe’s “Lemon Twist” is just that, some tart turns of phrases like, “The most respected scientists agree with the physiologists/That here’s one fact you can’t dispute.” Troupe’s cure-all is obviously a lemon twist. Warren and his trio bring in another Troupe lyric strutting rhythmically to Gerry Mulligan’s tune, “Walkin’ Shoes.” Bassist Jon Burr’s original “Sea Breeze” is well-crafted with a refreshing sea and sand melodic flow.
Warren’s trio shows its jazz know-how, with nimble fingered Dan Furman on piano, Jon Burr on bass and Dave Meade on drums. Mike Vitali on drums May 30th. J.P. Perreaux added his usual well-placed, creative lighting and sound.
As reviewed by JOE REGAN, JR.
Unexpected Pleasures at Don't Tell Mama.
“Handsome, mature Clark Warren decided to reprise a very significant birthday by performing a jazz tinged cabaret act at Don’t Tell Mama on November 5th entitled "Jazz & Standards
with a Twist."
Accompanied by pianist Dan Furman, whose piano seemed like a big jazz orchestra, Warren’s first selection was a jazzy mix up of ‘In a Mellow Tone’ and ‘When Lights are Low.’ He has a wild way of bending his vowels when he sings important lyrics and
I was surprised to hear some great songs that I had not heard before or that had not registered without the lyric feeling Warren projected.
A special surprise was the playing of an old vinyl recording of young Frank Sinatra singing a birthday message to Warren’s wife, comparing her with his own daughter, Nancy, and Warren saluted his wife with ‘Nancy With the Laughing Face’ and Lew Spence and the Bergmans’ ‘That Face.’ The connection was while Mrs. Warren’s father worked at NBC with Sinatra they discovered they had daughters about the same age.
Other unexpected pleasures were a rocking ‘Lemon Twist’ by Bobby Troupe, a stirring ‘Summertime,’ a rapid ‘Take 5,’ a high speed ‘It All Depends on You,’ Warren frequently using a mouth organ and all kinds of percussion. He changed pace with and a beautiful Jack Segal/Bob Wells ballad ‘What Are You Afraid Of.’
Calling himself a geezer he sang a great ‘Mean Old Man’ by James Taylor. He brought up the difference between today’s music and Songbook Standards by performing Roger and Hart’s ‘I Like to Recognize the Tune’ which was punctuated with swatches of ‘Blue Moon’ and Furman’s piano really sounded remarkable on the vocal breaks.
After a wild ‘Sunny Side of the Street,’ the encore was a lovely ‘Rainbow Connection.’ Jazz & Standards with a Twist is not the run of the mill list of great standards; it is a catalogue of unusual arrangements and vibrant singing by Clark Warren.”
Clark Warren: Jazz & Standards with a Twist repeats at Don’t Tell Mama November 24th again at 7 PM."
As reviewed by ROBERT WINDELER
A self-described member of “the geezerhood,” Clark Warren surely deserves a nicer-sounding appellation. After all, this gentleman of a certain age evinces many of the admirable qualities of advanced years: self-confidence, curiosity, a firm grasp on his field of endeavor, a spirit of adventure, and no-nonsense delivery of whatever he wants to say or sing, when he wants to say it or sing it. He is far from being a “Mean Old Man,” as the James Taylor song has it, and as Clark delights in singing. In the baker’s dozen numbers in his show, “Lucky So & So: Jazz & Standards with a Twist,” Warren demonstrates a range of interest that is beyond eclectic. His “twist” on these songs does not employ the usual tools of jazz singers, such as altered lyrics or changed tempos, and never mind scats and trills. No, Warren rather goes after the lesser-known songs of well-known composers, such as “Centerpiece” (Jon Hendricks, Harry “Sweets” Edison) or “Walkin’ Shoes” (Bobby Troup, Gerry Mulligan). The Troup canon even provides the show’s title song of sorts: “Lemon Twist,” which Warren delivers with the visual aid of a glass of brown liquid on the rocks containing a piece of the named citrus peel for Clark to play with as he sings. Another twist comes via gender-bending, as Warren sings a perfectly creditable, masculine “Summertime” (George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, Ira Gershwin), a song universally associated with sopranos some decades younger.
When Warren does perform a familiar song, it might be in an unlikely medley. “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart” (Duke Ellington, Henry Nemo, John Redmond, Irving Mills) is paired with two Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn numbers: “It’s You or No One” and “As Long as There’s Music.” Even a likely medley, such as “Nancy (With the Laughing Face)” (Jimmy Van Heusen, Phil Silvers) combined with “That Face” (Lew Spence, Alan Bergman) comes with a twist, albeit in the form of a spoken introduction. Warren’s wife, Gaile, was the daughter of an NBC staff director/producer, Wendell Gibbs, who was enlisted in 1948 and 1949 to help Frank Sinatra perfect his microphone technique for radio. The two men bonded and discovered they had daughters about the same age. One day Sinatra recorded a one-sided 78 rpm transcription especially to send to the young Miss Gibbs. It began, “Hi Gaile,” and continued with the singer talking about his own daughter and offering to sing a song especially written about her. The recording ends with Sinatra singing “Nancy with the Laughing Face.” The Warrens still have the record and it provides a touching introduction to Clark’s medley, with him picking up the singing honors on “Nancy.”
It would have been even more effective if Warren had slowed down and told the complete anecdote himself, instead of glossing over it quickly. I had to reach out to Gaile Warren, herself, to fill in the blanks in the back story. This is the downside of Warren’s casual approach to cabaret.
Still, the songs themselves are mostly a treat, insightfully interpreted and forcefully delivered, especially “Take Five” (Paul Desmond) and “I Like to Recognize the Tune” (Rodgers & Hart). Warren’s lucky thirteenth song, not exactly an encore, is an exuberant “On the Sunny Side of the Street” (Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields. It was the second time in two weeks I’d heard this chestnut in a cabaret act, the first time being in the show of 28-year-old Alexa Ray Joel. It’s nice to know that this song is making a cross-generational cabaret comeback. It’s even nicer to see that the sunny side of the street is where Clark Warren chooses to live, and where he belongs. His able musicians are Dan Furman on piano, Jon Burr on bass, and Dave Meade on drums. (Mike Vitali steps in for Meade at the May 30 show.)
“Lucky So & So: Jazz & Standards with a Twist”
Metropolitan Room - April 12, May 30
As reviewed by STU HAMSTRA
CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE
Clark Warren has been a favorite performer of mine for several years - I think I saw him for the first time at JUDY'S CHELSEA - and how many years ago was that? Clark was back at THE METROPOLITAN ROOM (34 West 22nd Street, NYC - 212-206-0440) on Friday, May 30th with a new version of his show 'Lucky So and So', this time subtitled: 'Jazz and Standards with a Twist'. He was joined by Dan Furman on piano, with John Burr on bass and Mike Vitali on drums. Known "in the business" as 'the Voice', Clark has done voice-over work for TV shows for years, as well as hosting of three syndicated radio music programs.
The special treat of a Clark Warren show is that you never quite know what to expect. He might pull a harmonica out of his pocket and play a verse - or highlight the end of a song with a gong that is just 3 inches in size. It's all in good fun, including a patter that occasionally runs off topic like a rambling stream-of-consciousness story. His very lovely and supporting wife Gaile must give him
a signal because suddenly he changes gears and is off to his
The song list was a potpourri of jazz favorites with a few non-jazz standards thrown in, and ran from the well known Paul Desmond classic Take 5, Mann/Evans' No Moon at All, and the Gershwin/Heyward Summertime to James Taylor's Mean Old Man and a tune by Clark's bass player, John Burr. Throughout the show, Clark gave ample time for members of his band - as a group and in solo - to shine, and shine they did (with occasional assist by Clark on harmonica or percussion.
Clark Warren shows occur periodically, and many of his fans, friends and family come from far and wide each time to join in the fun. It is a down-home, informal and truly entertaining hour - and never pretends to be anything more. I look forward to next time!
As reviewed by WARD MOREHOUSE III
BLACK TIE MAGAZINE
When veteran singer Clark Warren, whose most recent performances in New York have been at the prestigious Metropolitan Room, sings "Nancy," (also known as "Nancy with the Laughing Face") one can't help but think of Frank Sinatra whose rendition was an ode to his daughter Nancy. Warren sings it with special aplomb since Sinatra's one-time musical associate, Wendell Gibbs, had a daughter, Gaile, about Nancy's age. And Gaile
is Warren's wife.
But to call Clark Warren a throwback to the heydays of Sinatra, Mel Torme and Fred Astaire is an understatement. Warren is in a class by himself, a singer and entertainer who will leave
you wishing you never have to leave the Metropolitan Room. You’ll want to hear and see him again and again!
His other songs include the Gershwins' "Summertime" (from the George and Ira Gershwin musical "Porgy and Bess,") and "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart."
His upbeat and flavorful rendition "On the Sunny Side of the Street" was especially fun for me to hear since I knew the late, great
Dorothy Fields, who wrote the lyrics and I loved her sunny and