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At Town Hall (Live)

Bobby Short & Mabel Mercer

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Album Review

The pairing of sophisticated cabaret singers of two generations — sexagenarian Mabel Mercer and merely middle-aged Bobby Short — in a concert at Manhattan's Town Hall on May 19, 1968, was an inspired idea on the part of promoter George Wein, and an even better choice for a double-LP release by Atlantic Records. Both performers were longtime signees to the label, which made things easy. The first LP belonged to Short, who, backed by his usual cohorts, bassist Beverly Peer and drummer Dick Sheridan, turned in a typically appealing set that began with a quartet of Cole Porter songs and went on to a couple of Cy Coleman songs. His expertise on the music of these songwriters was well established, but he went on to try some jazzier and bluesier material, notably "Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer)" and Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's "Something to Live For," varying these selections with the witty novelties "And Her Mother Came Too" and "On the Amazon." Mercer's set, heard on the second disc, was not so diverse, but her precise rendering of a set of light, romantic lyrics and winning melodies, also dipping into the Porter and Coleman songbooks, kept the audience transfixed. The two returned together for the encore to duet playfully on "The 59th Street Bridge Song" and, appropriately, Coleman's "Here's to Us." The result was a stylish musical evening that harked back decades in New York society and nightlife, but managed to seem utterly contemporary, and it's effectively captured here.

Biography

Born: September 15, 1924 in Danville, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Nightclub entertainer Bobby Short performed from the 1930s to the 2000s, primarily singing the songs of the masters of pre-rock popular song, especially Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Noël Coward, and Rodgers & Hart, while accompanying himself on piano. The quintessential cabaret artist, the dapper Short, who often made best-dressed lists, perfectly articulated the lyrics in a husky baritone, delighting his well-heeled customers, particularly at the ritzy Cafe Carlyle of the Carlyle Hotel on the...
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At Town Hall (Live), Bobby Short
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