Paula West at Feinstein's at Loews Regency
The brilliant jazz singer's latest act showcases the work of writers as diverse as Irving Berlin and Rodgers & Hart to Jimmy Webb and Bob Dylan.
West's expansive take of Rodgers and Hart's' "Mountain Greenery" -- perhaps the cheeriest lyric the often morose songwriter ever penned -- is nothing short of sublime and there's an equally welcome feeling of joy in the pair's "Have You Met Sir Jones." They are love songs of the highest order, and after West completes them, you'll want to snuggle up to your nearest companion.
As might be expected, West delivers extensive feeling in her take on Berlin's classic "Suppertime" -- without showing an ounce of unnecessary bathos. Conversely, there's a delicious sense of delight in her rendition of Berlin's considerably lighter "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing."
Having tackled some of Dylan's most iconic tunes in the past, she opts for the 1975 song "Shelter From the Storm," a song whose lyrics have been interpreted in a myriad of ways, and which she delivers with her trademark conviction. Perhaps her most surprising choice of the evening is a rather straightforward version of Webb's pop-classic "Wichita Lineman" that reveals the lyric's true depth of feeling.
The remainder of the act runs the gamut from the Lena Horne standard "Come Runnin," and "Everything But You," to a topically updated take on "I Can't Get Started With You" and a defiantly exuberant "I Love to Singa," each of which is delivered with West's trademark vocal purity. Only her version of Hoagy Carmichael and Paul Francis Webster's "Baltimore Oriole" struck me as a bit too fussy for its own good.