Press and Reviews
San Francisco, CA – September 17, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
By David Wiegund
It would be ungallant to reveal Marilyn Maye's age, but before you go see her at the Rrazz Room - and, boy, should you ever go see her at the Rrazz Room - check the year of her birth on the Internet. Then be prepared to disbelieve.
Maye took the stage dripping in red Bob Mackie and lots of diamonds Tuesday night and blasted the roof off the place with the Andre and Dory Previn song from “Inside Daisy Clover,” “You're Gonna Hear From Me.” She then proceeded to have her way with an American classics playlist that ran the gamut from Johnny Mercer (“One for My Baby,” “Drinkin' Again”), to Cole Porter (“I Concentrate on You” and several others), Rodgers and Hart (“Mountain Greenery”), Billy Strayhorn (“Lush Life,” of course) and then rocking out with a Ray Charles three-song medley.
Now, let's get technical a minute, although doing that will be hard while you're actually listening to Maye. After the fact, though, consider how she does it. First and foremost, it's breath support, one of the key things that so many younger singers lack. Maye's got it in spades, so much so that she can slither up and down the octaves like a teenager and hold a note so long, you think she's never going to let go of it.
Then there's phrasing, the ability to stress just the right note, the right word, to tell the story of a song. The way she “tells” the loneliness and resignation of “Lush Life” and “One for My Baby” makes those songs seem entirely fresh and Maye's own.
The voice itself is powerful when it needs to be, and just as soft when that's called for. One minute, she's belting out Charles' “Hallelujah I Love Her So” (adjusting the lyrics for a female singer), the next, her voice softens to a light whisper on “You Don't Know Me.”
Given her big break by Steve Allen and later one of Johnny Carson's most frequent guests, Maye is a pro's pro. Yet, she's clearly having so much fun, the act never feels stale for a second.
Backed by an outstanding trio of pianist/conductor Tedd Firth, bassist Dan Feiszli and her drummer of 47 years, Jim Eklof, Maye just gambols through a 17-song set list and takes the audience with her from the downbeat.
And we are oh so willing to go along for the ride.