Music men Feinstein, Webb tour America

By FREDERICK M. WINSHIP   |   Nov. 12, 2003 at 5:30 PM   |   0 comments

NEW YORK, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- When one of the foremost interpreters of the traditional Great American Songbook teams up with one of the outstanding songwriters of today, there is only one way to celebrate -- with a CD album and a national tour.

Concord Records has just released "Only One Life: The Songs of Jimmy Webb" as sung by Michael Feinstein with Webb at the piano, and Feinstein & Webb are well into a tour of concert halls and supper clubs in 14 cities that began in Los Angeles early last month and will end in Pittsburgh Nov. 17. It included a week at Feinstein's own club at New York's Regency Hotel, one of the city's top cabaret venues.

The link-up with Webb, who has written some of the most performed songs of the last 30 years and is also a singer, marks Feinstein's most extensive collaboration with contemporary music. His career has been built mainly on performing and recording the works of such golden age songwriters as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, and Duke Ellington.

"Most Great American Songbook standards were written before the 1960s," Feinstein said in an interview at Feinstein's at the Regency. "My latest endeavor has been to recognized the newer songwriters whose works will certainly be added to this classic songbook.

"I couldn't think of a better way to start than with the incredible music of Jimmy Webb, who is the link between classic and contemporary songwriting. I think of Jimmy as the contemporary involvement in and the continuation of the Great American Songbook tradition."

Webb is the only songwriter to have received Grammy awards in three artistic areas -- for music, lyrics, and orchestrations -- and has also won recognition for his film scores. He wrote what Frank Sinatra called the greatest torch song ever written -- "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" -- as well as "Up, Up and away," "Wichita Lineman," "Didn't We," "The Worst That Can Happen," "Time Flies," and "The Highwayman," a country music classic.

Webb's compositions are a perfect amalgam of beautifully crafted music and witty, intelligent lyrics and are eminently suited to Feinstein's smooth, romantic delivery, impeccable diction, and Sinatra-like vocal quality. The singer is also a sparkling keyboard performer and accompanies himself in the new show when he is not being accompanied by Webb.

Webb's voice is huskier than Feinstein's and his approach to his material less romantic, but he can perform in a dreamy, slightly mocking way that contrasts nicely to Feinstein's style. He is also an outstanding pianist, and his duo piano medley of Gershwin musical requests from the audience performed with Feinstein is one of the highlights of the show, which is otherwise all-Webb except for a Frank Loesser number.

Feinstein is at his best singing the nostalgic "Time Flies," a song associated with Rosemary Clooney and dedicated to her memory, and "The Moon's A Harsh Mistress." He takes flight vocally in a rendition of "Up, Up and Away (In My Beautiful Balloon)." And his crooned rendition of Webb's finest ballad, "Didn't We," is a revelation summed up in one line, "This time we almost made it to the moon, didn't we?"

Webb's contributions include "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," Loesser's "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year," sung as a tribute to the victims of 9/11, "Wichita Lineman," and "Only One Life," a song inspired by the composer's divorce. He also contributes a new song, "Belmont Avenue," written for a Broadway musical he is working as a star vehicle for Bc-us-feinstein3

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(for tues 11/11)

Music team of Feinstein & Webb tours America

By FREDERICK M. WINSHIP

NEW YORK, Nov. 11 - (UPI) - When one of the foremost interpreters of the traditional Great American Songbook teams up with one of the outstanding songwriters of today, there is only one way to celebrate - with a CD album and a national tour.

Concord Records has just released "Only One Life: The Songs of Jimmy Webb" as sung by Michael Feinstein with Webb at the piano, and Feinstein & Webb are well into a tour of concert halls and supper clubs in 14 cities that began in Los Angeles early last month and will end in Pittsburgh Nov. 17. It included a week at Feinstein's own club at New York's Regency Hotel, one of the city's top cabaret venues.

The link-up with Webb, who has written some of the most performed songs of the last 30 years and is also a singer, marks Feinstein's most extensive collaboration with contemporary music. His career has been built mainly on performing and recording the works of such golden age songwriters as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, and Duke Ellington.

"Most Great American Songbook standards were written before the 1960s," Feinstein said in an interview at Feinstein's at the Regency. "My latest endeavor has been to recognized the newer songwriters whose works will certainly be added to this classic songbook.

"I couldn't think of a better way to start than with the incredible music of Jimmy Webb, who is the link between classic and contemporary songwriting. I think of Jimmy as the contemporary involvement in and the continuation of the Great American Songbook tradition."

Webb is the only songwriter to have received Grammy awards in three artistic areas - for music, lyrics, and orchestrations - and has also won recognition for his film scores. He wrote what Frank Sinatra called the greatest torch song ever written - "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" - as well as "Up, Up and away," "Wichita Lineman," "Didn't We," "The Worst That Can Happen," "Time Flies," and "The Highwayman," a country music classic.

Webb's compositions are a perfect amalgam of beautifully crafted music and witty, intelligent lyrics and are eminently suited to Feinstein's smooth, romantic delivery, impeccable diction, and Sinatra-like vocal quality. The singer is also a sparkling keyboard performer and accompanies himself in the new show when he is not being accompanied by Webb.

Webb's voice is huskier than Feinstein's and his approach to his material less romantic, but he can perform in a dreamy, slightly mocking way that contrasts nicely to Feinstein's style. He is also an outstanding pianist, and his duo piano medley of Gershwin musical requests from the audience performed with Feinstein is one of the highlights of the show, which is otherwise all-Webb except for a Frank Loesser number.

Feinstein is at his best singing the nostalgic "Time Flies," a song associated with Rosemary Clooney and dedicated to her memory, and "The Moon's A Harsh Mistress." He takes flight vocally in a rendition of "Up, Up and Away (In My Beautiful Balloon)." And his crooned rendition of Webb's finest ballad, "Didn't We," is a revelation summed up in one line, "This time we almost made it to the moon, didn't we?"

Webb's contributions include "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," Loesser's "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year," sung as a tribute to the victims of 9/11, "Wichita Lineman," and "Only One Life," a song inspired by the composer's divorce. He also contributes a new song, "Belmont Avenue," written for a Broadway musical he is working as a star vehicle for Chaz Palmintieri.

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