Flavorpill: Jose Llana Thrills at American Songbook at Lincoln Center

Originally published on Flavorpill.

jose llana

Jose Llana’s American Songbook concert had no title or theme. He sang songs from shows he’s appeared in, a few pop numbers from the likes of Billy Joel and George Michael, and one ballad in Tagalog from his uneasy attempt at pop stardom in the Philippines. Despite the fairly standard cabaret structure, there was nothing ordinary about what happened on the stage of The Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center on Thursday night. Llana demonstrated that he is an exceptionally versatile performer, thrilling the audience with contemporary pop songs and Broadway standards alike. Continue reading

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Flavorpill: Joey Arias Invocation of Billie Holliday Was Spot On

Originally published on Flavorpill.

joey-arias
It take balls to celebrate Billie Holiday’s centennial by inviting a white drag queen from downtown to sing Lady Day’s songs in one of the most uptown of venues, but that’s exactly what Lincoln Center did at Wednesday night’s American Songbook concert featuring Joey Arias. The intersection of uptown and down, black and white, male and female set the perfect tone for an evening devoted to Holiday, herself a complicated figure too often remembered lately for her struggles with drugs rather than her artistry. Continue reading

Flavorpill: Judy Kuhn: American Songbook Series Review

Originally published on Flavorpill.

Judy-Kuhn

There were a lot of good ideas on display at the Appel Room on Wednesday night: Giving Judy Kuhn the American Songbook spotlight before she returns to Broadway in Fun Home later this season was a good idea. Pairing Ms. Kuhn with Todd Almond as her arranger and musical director was a great idea. Giving them six additional musicians to play charts by Josh Clayton was a wonderful idea. Crafting a show around the three generations of composers in the Rodgers-Guettel family was a superb idea. Why then did the finish product feel much better in theory than in execution? Continue reading

Flavorpill: Review: American Songbook, Reich and Sondheim

 

Originally published on Flavorpill.

Reich-Sondheim

Lincoln Center stretched the definition of American Songbook with Reich and Sondheim: In Conversation and Performance, but the audience at Saturday night’s concert at the Appel Room was glad they did. There’s no question that Stephen Sondheim and Steve Reich are titans of American composition, the former in the realm of musical theater, the latter in contemporary classical. Each man has a Pulitzer, a Gold Medal in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, multiple Grammy Awards, the Praemium Imperiale… you get the idea. It turns out they are also friends and admirers of each other’s work, not to mention innovators and iconoclasts in their respective fields. Continue reading