Melba Moore: Forever Moore
The Tony Award winner's new cabaret act the Cafe Carlyle showcases her musical versatility.
She serves notice immediately with a complex, jazz-tinged take on Iriving Berlin's "Blue Skies," before tearing into a trio of standards. She takes the second line of Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing" literally by swinging the song hard; follows that tune up with an all-stops out rendition of "Stormy Weather," and ups the ante once more with a reworking of Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You" sung primarily in her soprano voice. To top this all off, she performs a dazzling all-scat tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.
Moore pays homage to her theater career next, with a savvy medley of songs from Hair (including a heartfelt version of "Easy to Be Hard") and her two hits from Purlie (which earned the Tony Award): the title song and the ever-infectious "I Got Love." If this grouping makes clear that her voice has coarsened a bit in the intervening 40 years, her commitment to material remains completely firm.
The rather staid room proves to be a less-than-ideal setting for two of her dance hits, "This Is It" and "You Stepped Into My Life," but she easily wins back the crowd with a medley of 1960s Motown hits, and has them on her feet with her final number, Van McCoy's gospel-tinged "Lean on Me."