David Pomeranz
David Pomeranz
With increasing frequency, New York's modest cabaret rooms are becoming places where major nightclub talents drop in to do their shows -- and sometimes stay for long runs. Whether it's Blossom Dearie at Danny's Skylight Room, Jeff Harnar at Don't Tell Mama, or Baby Jane Dexter at The Duplex, several cabaret stars are, figuratively speaking, creating their own major stages in smaller, less expensive rooms. It may soon get to the point where you can wander into one of these clubs and just as readily stumble upon a sophisticated, polished act by a major name as find yourself trapped at a "friends and family" show. As if to hammer home this point, the accomplished singer/songwriter David Pomeranz suddenly appeared at Danny's Skylight Room to perform a couple of shows earlier this week.

Pomeranz's gig at Danny's signals yet another ratcheting-up of this mid-level club's ability to book high-profile talent. The youthful Pomeranz has been a force in the music business since the age of 19, when he signed a multi-album deal with Decca Records. He was the lead singer of the rock band Pure Praire League and, later, had his pop compositions recorded by the likes of Bette Midler, Kenny Loggins, Kenny Rogers, Cleo Laine, Donna Summer, Leo Sayer, and, most notably, Barry Manilow, for whom he wrote the number one hits "Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again" and "The Old Songs."

Pomeranz's nightclub act is a well-paced mixture of his past pop chart-toppers, some of his newer compositions, songs he's written for the musical theater, and a few well placed standards by others. Here's a genuine showman who often finds fresh and imaginative ways to showcase his material. Although some of his pop tunes were not to our taste, he made them more appealing through his razzmatazz performance. Whether accompanying himself at the piano or on guitar, and once using the piano as a drum, Pomeranz constantly displayed his versatility and virtuosity. His tenor voice is bright, rangy, and full of character. His every move and sound on stage is musical, from his staccato patter to his amusingly hummed jazz segués. Put more simply, Pomeranz is fully alive on stage. He loves the spotlight, and he knows what to do when it's shining on him.

Okay, he's a little bit of a hot dog (that's baseball parlance for a show-off), but he gets away with it because he backs up his smart-alecky attitude with an even smarter performance. Some of his songs are clearly autobiographical, at least in the sense that the themes seem deeply personal. Whether he's performing a number that the ambitious, nine-year-old Charlie Chaplin character sings in a musical Pomeranz has written or an anthem about "reaching up to the fire," it becomes clear that this composer aches with a passion for excellence. He wants to achieve something greater, and he knows -- as do all good artists -- that you almost always fall short of your goal. That knowledge gives his best songs a defiant emotional tension.

We understand that the L.A.-based Pomeranz is planning to spend more time in New York in the future. One hopes that he'll bring this show back here soon.