Sandy Stewart and Bill Charlap: Somebody Loves Me
The pair's new cabaret show at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room is a heartfelt exploration of the Great American Songbook.
The act is firmly dedicated to the true standards of the Great American Songbook -- with the work of George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Irving Berlin front and center. There are no novelty songs or comic ditties or trunk songs being performed here -- although the pair smartly mix ballads and gentle "uptempo" numbers such as "How About You" and "Who Cares" -- and many audience members will have to restrain themselves from singing along with every word.
Stewart, her voice still clear and strong after many decades as a performer, is a singer who eschews frills (and even patter), firmly concentrating on each note and each phrase of a song. At her best, she plunges directly into the heart of a song, such as the Gershwins' gorgeously bittersweet "Isn't It a Pity," or Vernon Duke's beautiful "Autumn in New York."
While Charlap has emerged in recent years as one of the world's foremost jazz pianists -- he recently led the all-star band assembled to salute Dave Brubeck at the Kennedy Center Honors -- he appears more than happily content through most of the show to simply provide inspired support for his mother. As has been tradition, he does grab the spotlight for a few solo numbers mid-show; on opening night, he dazzled with a stunning interpretation of Stephen Sondheim's "You Must Meet My Wife," and a deliciously joyful take on "Tea for Two."