Press and Reviews
New York, NY – April 27, 2012
THE NEW YORK TIMES | MUSIC REVIEW
It’s April, It Rains. Deal (and Sing).
Marilyn Maye Performs at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency
by Stephen Holden
“The Happiest Sound in Town,” the title of Marilyn Maye’s new show at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, is not a misnomer. A woman of seemingly inexhaustible vocal stamina, show-business smarts and innate good will and optimism, Ms. Maye, now 84, spreads a kind of joy that is the opposite of the forced cheer affected by many performers to camouflage insecurity.
|Marilyn Maye singing at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency on Thursday.
In Ms. Maye’s warming presence, your personal demons seem trivial, and you realize that all those self-help clichés about living in the moment and creating your own good fortune may really mean something.
The show, in which she is accompanied by Billy Stritch on piano, Tom Hubbard on bass and Jim Eklof on drums, is a career retrospective with a spring theme. There are April showers and a moody medley of “Spring Is Here” and “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” which acknowledge that we all have our bad days and heartaches.
But Ms. Maye’s approach toward anything resembling a torch song is to shrug and put it in context. After a setback, even a serious one, she knows that time heals, and that the only sensible course is to get back on your feet and continue the journey to the happier future suggested in songs about golden rainbows and silver linings.
“Are You Havin’ Any Fun?,” which illustrates her philosophy, is a tough, slangy pep talk (by Jack Yellen and Sammy Fain) that questions the Puritan work ethic and advises hedonism.
Important mentors of Ms. Maye’s, including Steve Allen and Johnny Carson, were also paid tribute at Thursday’s show. Allen’s “When I’m in Love” describes how crazily wonderful the world looks through the eyes of a besotted lover.
Of all the numbers Ms. Maye sang in her 76 appearances on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson,” she said, his all-time favorite was “Here’s That Rainy Day.” But the way Ms. Maye interprets the song, the arrival of bad weather doesn’t signal the return of chronic depression that many renditions suggest; it’s just a momentary blip of gloom on a sunny day. Resilience is the thing.