November is here, this crazy election is looming over us, our nerves are frayed and I could not think of a better way to soothe my soul than to let Ann Hampton Callawayserenade me in her ‘Jazz Meets Broadway'show at Birdland this past Tuesday night. For 75 minutes or so I was able to escape into a beautiful world of song starting with a musical introduction by Ann’s well appointed and skilled band consisting of Bill Mays, Musical Director/Piano, Martin Wind, Bass and Tim Horner on Drums. The room explodes when Ann takes the stage singing “That Old Devil Moon” from Finian’s Rainbow. Selections from Spring Is Here and My Fair Lady follow. Nothing Broadway is complete without Sondheim. I’m sure Sondheim would totally approve of her rendition of "No One is Alone" from Into The Woods, although we know that he does not approve of any changes to his musical arrangements and we all had a good laugh when she shared an anecdote with the audience about this very subject.
The latter portion of the set was dedicated to current Broadway Musicals, and this was pure delight. Yes you can mash up Hamilton’s “My Shot” with “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl. She proves she can sing just about everything when she owns “I’m Here” from The Color Purple. It takes a lot of guts to sing this song when Cynthia Erivo is singing it a just a block away, and holding up the Tony Award for it, but nothing is lost here as Ann delivers every note with melodious command. Ann is a true star, and has earned that title winning her own Tony Award, numerous MAC Awards, and a list of honors that goes on. An accomplished songwriter, her music and lyrics have been performed and recorded by some people you may have heard of like Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Patti LuPone, Michael Feinstein, Harvey Fierstein, Carole King and many more.
Ann makes love to the Broadway Songbook with her smoky, smooth voice that fuses together with her band like another finely tuned instrument. In addition to being a master of scat she hits all kinds of highs and lows that really stood out in “It Never Entered My Mind” from Higher and Higher. The arrangements are creative and fun taking typical up tempos, down and down tempos, up. The evening came to a magical end with “Somewhere” from West side Story that begins a cappella and gradually brings in the bass and the rest of the band. This was a welcome and wonderful evening of musical distraction. The room was filled with fans, friends and family including her lovely wife Kari Strand and equally talented sister Liz Callaway. Ann joked saying that we could take her home with us, and then said her CD’s were available after the show. There are still a few more shows through November 5th so get your reservations at Birdland Jazz Club by clicking here. Ann and sister Liz are also performing with the New York Pops Holiday Show on December 16, 2016 at Carnegie Hall. This is also an event you will not want to miss. Tickets sell out fast, but you can search here for available seats. Learn more about Ann, purchase her CD's and find out about upcoming performances at her website www.annhamptoncallaway.com/ –ThisbroadSway 11/1/2016