Michael Feinstein put’s on a hell of a show!

Susan King has a cool ‘Culture Monster’ article…

…in the LA Times today (here) that features a brief interview with Michael Feinstein.

The interview covers a mash of subjects as more or less a promotion builder for his upcoming Sinatra Project touring performance at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa this Saturday.

Michael recounts one of his interesting Sinatra Project show anecdotes relating to how he first met Mr. S, and there’s some other interesting consumables in the piece, but the interesting bit is when Susan King asks MF to do the impossible!

King pushed Feinstein to name his five favorite Sinatra numbers. I think we all know, that simply can’t be done … Sinatra rendered way too much “distinctively Frank” material to possible cull five songs out as a favorites list.

But Michael is a smart guy …

…and rather than name “favorites”, he answered with a list of five “essential” Frank Sinatra songs and proceeded to offer some really interesting insight on each number — hitting on musical, historical and emotional levels.

There are few people that know the history of the Frank and the Rat Pack era — the songwriters, arrangers, musicians and singers from the golden era of popular American standards — like Michael Feinstein.

Agree or disagree with Michael’s list, it’s damned impressive that he even took a thoughtful swing at the impossible question; it’s definitely worth linking over to the LA Times (again here) to read Feinstein’s perspective on his “essential Sinatra” numbers.

 

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Michael Feinstein…

…just released The Gershwins And Me: A Personal History In Twelve Songs … a very interesting book that chronicles the six years Michael spent with Ira Gershwin researching and cataloging the music and lives of George and Ira Gershwin.

Feinstein uses twelve songs (that he also performs on a CD that comes with the book), his deep research and anecdotes associated with these classic numbers to reveal the essence of his time with Ira, as well as the lives and music of the Gershwins and their foundational roles as composer/song writers in what has become The Great American Songbook.

Head over to NPR for the lowdown on Michael’s new book/CD, including excerpts from his recent Fresh Air interview … or listen to the whole Fresh Air interview that is available as a stream (a download or a transcript as well … very cool).

If you’re a bit on the wonkish side regarding The American Songbook and the great songwriters of that era (yeah, that’s me) then this is “not to be missed” stuff.

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 The life story of an amazing man…

…woven into a superb documentary. In Johnny Mercer: The Dream’s on Me Special Edition DVD, Clint Eastwood and Bruce Ricker simply perform magic.

Eastwood and Ricker distill Johnny Mercer’s almost unimaginably  successful career, and life into an immersive 90 minute “Mercer Experience” theme park ride … rich with the nuance and anecdotes of Johnny’s contemporaries and ambient with the music that made Mercer THE singular singer/songwriter of an era.

I’m saying it…

So, I think we should get this out of the way right up front … Johnny Mercer was the best, the absolute best singer/songwriter in the Great American Songbook era (from the ’30s to the ’70s) and — in my opinion — still remains atop the long and distinguished list of great popular standards lyricists.

Johnny may not have written the Great American Songbook single handedly, but he had lots to say in virtually every chapter. Whether swing or jazz; Broadway or Hollywood; waltzes or war ditties; love songs, torch numbers or the blues … whatever page the book falls open to Mercer is there. [Read more…]

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It really wasn’t fair. I put Michael Feinstein at a bit of a disadvantage before his performance last Thursday in Austin. After spending three days listening to and reviewing the newly remastered Sinatra-Basie: The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings album — arguably the quintessential collection of Sinatra recordings — I then went directly to the Bass Concert Hall to catch Feinstein’s The Sinatra Project Tour performance.

Well, there was dinner, but the gap between my many hours with Frank and Count Basie’s band, and MF taking the stage at Bass was pretty brief.

It took me all of about 2 minutes to realize that unconsciously I was holding Michael and his outstanding 18 piece stage band to an unfair — in fact an impossible standard. I mean how could Feinstein and his touring band compete with the best studio performances from Basie and Sinatra — beautifully rendered in last week’s new Concord Records release. Once I realized the irrational trick my subconscious was playing on me, I relaxed and joined the rest of the ~3,500 fans clearly enjoying the show. And what a show!  [Read more…]

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Just want to tease about an upcoming review of Michael Feinstein’s Sinatra Project tour. As I said in my earlier Steve Tyrell review, I’ve been blocking in shows to attend this fall, and Michael is coming to me!

The Sinatra Project Tour is stopping in Austin next week ( Sept 8 ) at the outstanding Bass Concert Hall.

I’ve listened to Michael Feinstein for many years (he was one of the guys that helped keep the genre alive an kicking through the standards dearth years) but I’ve only been able to catch him on stage via TV. I’m looking forward to the full Feinstein stage experience and will give you the lowdown after the show!

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