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My View: One of The Greatest Has Passed – Buddy Greco

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No one has influenced my love of music more than Buddy Greco, who passed away January 10th. I was honored that he called me a friend. This is from his website: The photo is from the Copa circa 1962
“Since his first performance at the age of four to his most recent appearance, Buddy Greco, legendary pianist and singer has the longest professional career of any living musical artist.  And since the release of his first recording in 1946, to his latest release in 2013 he has the distinction of having the longest recording history of any living recording artist.  He is written about in countless books and articles about music including Who’s Who in Jazz and Great American Singers.

But more than that, he is a witness, participant and contributor to the popular culture of one of the most exciting centuries in modern history.  His career, spanning eight decades, encompasses millions of record sales around the world, countless appearances on radio, television and performances on the stages of the most prestigious venues in the world.He performed with, and counted  as his friends some of the most famous artists and bands of all time including Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, The Beatles, and many more.

Born in South Philadelphia in 1926, he started singing on radio at the age of 4 and playing piano at 6 and by the age of 15 he was a seasoned professional.. He got his break when at 20 he signed to the Musicraft record label, home to the likes of Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Tormé, and soon had his first hit with Oh Look-A-There Ain’t She Pretty, selling over a million copies.  As his profile increased he began to gain attention from some of the leading musicians of the time and in 1949 he spent a year on the road and recording with the revered band leader Benny Goodman.

Releases on numerous labels including Capitol, London, Coral and Columbia followed and as his popularity soared Greco was soon widely regarded as one of the preeminent pianists, singers, arrangers and composers of his generation. In 1963 he was invited to appear at The Royal Variety Performance for The Queen on the same bill as The Beatles, Marlene Dietrich, Max Bygraves, Tommy Steele and Harry Secombe.

While recording for Columbia records in 1962 he scored an international hit with his version of The Lady Is A Tramp, which became his signature tune. This was a successful recording period for him and other hits during this time included Around the World, Girl Talk, MacArthur Park and The More I See You. He signed with Frank Sinatra’s label Reprise Records in 1965 for which he recorded three albums including the popular Big Band & Ballads, which was released to widespread critical acclaim in 1966.

Buddy continued to tour and record in the years that followed, tailoring his style to suit the constantly changing shape of the industry. He recorded a number of jazz/pop albums including Hot Nights, just re-released in the U.K. and From the Wrists Down which was recorded in London with a 60-piece symphony orchestra and demonstrates Greco’s ability to arrange for large ensembles. He also recorded a critically acclaimed album, The Modern Sounds of Hank Williams, a jazz rendition of Hank Williams songs at this time.

In 1992 he produced and recorded a pure jazz album, Buddy Greco and his Jazz Friends, with his friends Grover Washington Jr, Ernie Watts, Buddy DeFranco, Jack Sheldon and Toots Thielemans, and in 2004, Fever! The Music of Miss Peggy Lee, a double album featuring the accomplished vocalist and his wife, Lezlie Anders from their critically acclaimed stage production of the same name.

His latest recording project, Benny Goodman Revisited, released in June 2013, has been lauded for its musical and historical significance. He is currently recording a radio series entitled, My Friends, Their Music, featuring his musical choices and anecdotes about his friends, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Nat Cole, Peggy Lee and Rosemary Clooney, to broadcast coinciding with the release of his autobiography,  I Had a Ball: The Swinging Life of Buddy Greco.

At the age of 90, Buddy Greco continues to record and perform and has achieved renewed popularity with generations of listeners who hadn’t been born when he first appeared. A true legend from the golden era of entertainment, he will go down in history as one of the great performers of the 20th century.”

Buddy Greco & Stephen Sorokoff, Copa 1962

Buddy Greco & Stephen Sorokoff, Copa 1962

Buddy Greco, Joey Reynolds, Stephen Sorokoff

Buddy Greco, Joey Reynolds, Stephen Sorokoff

Stephen studied at the Manhattan School of Music. Besides being a pianist, Stephen’s business career was in the Fashion Industry. He was CEO of a textile manufacturing facility and President of an international textile machinery company. Stephen was on the Board of Directors of the “First All Children’s Theatre” which brought the Stephen Schwartz musical The Trip and Captain Louie to the Kennedy Center in Wash DC. His wife Eda, an interior space designer and classical pianist was on the Board of Barrington Stage Company and is still active at BSC. Stephen’s photographs, videos and articles appear on Broadwayworld.com, T2Conline.com and The New York Observer. He is active in the entertainment events at the Friars Club, where he is a member. Stephen is also an Honorary Board Member of The Society For The Preservation of The Great American Songbook. Stephen Sorokoff@gmail.com

Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: On The Town For Fleet Week

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Fleet Week is upon us, so, attached is a drawing I did of Channing Tatum a few years ago for The Los Angeles Times. This was done for Hail Caesar! choreographed by Christopher Gattelli.

Hail Caesar!  is by Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, Fargo), starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

Here is a video with Channing and the rest of the cast. Talk about a great Happy Memorial Day!

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Cabaret

My View: Jimmie Herrod….America’s Got Talent!

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Our table of four “judges” at 54 Below (Steven Reineke, Eric Gabbard, Storm Large, Eda Sorokoff) didn’t have a Golden Buzzer to ring for “America’s Got Talent” winner Jimmie Herrod last night, but we all gave this super singer a standing ovation and a thumbs up at the conclusion of his solo Cabaret debut in Broadway’s Supper Club.

Jimmie’s tonal dexterity, vocal chords that have no limits, and imaginative jazz interpretations of Broadway and Pop standards  thrilled a room full of music lovers.

Not everyone in America has talent, but Jimmie Herrod sure has!

From blowing the judges away as a finalist on “America’s Got Talent” to playing Angel in the symphonic version of Rent at The Kennedy Center, and touring the world as a member of Pink Martini, Jimmie shared his favorite songs and stories in an unforgettable intimate and personal show. 

Alex Boniello (Dear Evan Hansen, Deaf West Spring Awakening) was Jimmie’s special guest

About Jimmie Herrod

Jimmie is a vocalist who brings singular power an expressivity to his global career as a singer, songwriter, and entertainer on stage and screen. As a solo artist with a uniquely high vocal range, Jimmie has appeared to critical and audience acclaim multiple times with the National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center, including on the nationally broadcast “Joni Mitchell Songbook,” and alongside luminaries such as Renee Fleming and Raul Midon.

Recent appearances include solo debuts with the St. Louis, Nashville, and Houston Symphony Orchestras, starring alongside vocalist Storm Large in a weekend of concerts with the Oregon Symphony, and touring the globe as a member of the band Pink Martini.  Herrod first came to worldwide prominence as a finalist on the NBC nationally broadcast television show, “America’s Got Talent,” earning the rare “Golden Buzzer recognition from actress Sofia Vergara and returning the following year on the AGT All-Star series. IN 2024 Jimmie launches his first national tour as a solo artist, in support of his forthcoming full-length album.

JIMMIE HERROD, STEVEN REINEKE, The New York Pops, ERIC GABBARD

JIMMIE HERROD

JIMMIE HERROD

JIMMIE HERROD

JIMMIE HERROD

ALEX BONIELLO

JIMMIE HERROD & ALEX BONIELLO

STANDING OVATION

EDA SOROKOFF, STEVEN REINEKE, STORM LARGE, ERIC GABBARD

STORM LARGE & EDA SOROKOFF

STORM LARGE & STEPHEN SOROKOFF

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Cabaret

My View: Julie Wilson Honored By The Mabel Mercer Foundation at The Pierre Hotel

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Cabaret luminaries, supporters, and officers of The Mabel Mercer Foundation gathered at The Pierre Hotel last night to celebrate the100th anniversary of the birth year of cabaret legend Julie Wilson.  Julie’s dominant presence in the cabaret world over the many decades led her to be called “The Queen of Cabaret”. Cabaret’s current guiding light, KT Sullivan, the artistic director of The Mabel Mercer Foundation hosted the evening’s celebration which included a gourmet buffet followed by performances from some of cabaret’s most beloved artists and friends of Julie Wilson.  Entertaining the Gala audience of music connoisseurs and honoring the legacy of Julie Wilson were: Karen Akers, Carole J. Bufford, Melissa Errico, Jeff Harnar, Sue Matsuki, MOIPEI ( Mary, Maggy & Marta), Sidney Myer, Craig Rubano, KT Sullivan and Amra-Faye Wright…. John Weber (piano) and Steve Doyle (Bass).

An especially emotional moment of the evening was actor Holt McCallany (son of Julie Wilson) paying tribute to his mother and singing “I’m Becoming My Mother”.

HOLT McCALLANY (son of Julie Wilson)

KT SULLIVAN, artistic director The Mabel Mercer Foundation

KT SULLIVAN

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

JEFF HARNAR

JEFF HARNAR

SUE MATSUKI

SUE MATSUKI

CRAIG RUBANO

CRAIG RUBANO

KAREN AKERS

KAREN AKERS

SIDNEY MYER

SIDNEY MYER

AMRA-FAYE WRIGHT

AMRA-FAYE WRIGHT

HOLT McCALLANY

HOLT McCALLANY

HOLT McCALLANY (son of Julie Wilson)

MOIPEI

MOIPEI

PATRICK McENROE, KT SULLIVAN,MELISSA ERRICO,MOIPEI

HOLT McCALLANY & CAROLE J. BUFFORD

MOIPEI & HOLT McCALLANY

EDA SOROKOFF & ELIZABETH SULLIVAN (Happy 94th Birthday)

MELISSA ERRICO PATRICK McENROE, KT SULLIVAN

JEFF HARNAR & MOIPEI

HEATHER SULLIVAN, HOWARD MORGAN, Chairman of the board Mabel Mercer Foundation, ELANOR MORGAN

KT SULLIVAN, ELIZABETH SULLIVAN, HEATHER SULLIVAN,Dr. Patrick Sullivan

KT SULLIVAN

KT SULLIVAN, PETER HANSON, Linda Hanson

EDA SOROKOFF & CRHRISTEL IBSEN

MONAH GETTNER,KT SULLIVAN, ALAN GETTNER

BRIAN KALTNER, Board Member Mabel Mercer Foundation & DEBBIE DAMP

HOWARD MORGAN, KT SULLIVAN, CAROLE J. BUFFORD,MOIPEI, MATHEW INGE

PATRICK McENROE & MELISSA ERRICO

KT SULLIVAN & STEPHEN SOROKOFF

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Film

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Amy Winehouse

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Back to Black is a biopic based on the life of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, played by Marisa Abela. Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and written by Matt Greenhalgh, the film also stars Jack O’Connell, Eddie Marsan, and Lesley Manville.

After the death of Winehouse in 2011, filmmakers attempted to create a feature biopic with various projects. In October 2018, it was announced that Winehouse’s estate had signed a deal to make a biopic about her life and career. In July 2022, Deadline Hollywood reported that StudioCanal was moving forward with a feature film entitled Back to Black. Sam Taylor-Johnson directed from a script by Matt Greenhalgh. Alison Owen and Debra Hayward produced under their Monumental Pictures banner, alongside Nicky Kentish-Barnes.

The film was released theatrically in Australia in April 2024, and was released in the United Kingdom shortly after. Focus Features released the film in the United States on May 17 2024.

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Cabaret

My View: Why CAN’T A Woman…? This Woman Can…Lianne Marie Dobbs

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The actor Lianne Marie Dobbs played a 1900’s woman in the HBO series The Gilded Age. You also might have seen her in Law & Order, The Equalizer and F.B.I., but yesterday at Chelsea Tables + Stage she wasn’t just playing the part of a Cabaret singer!  Ms. Dobbs is the real deal, and she captivated an audience of music connoisseurs with her formidable vocal talents and wit in her show titled “Why CAN’T a Woman…? 

Lianne’s cabaret act utilizes Broadway leading men’s songs and sassy standards, served up with a twist of SHE, to celebrate all the hats that women wear, and she answered the shows question authoritatively….This woman sure can!

Lianne Marie Dobbs was named one of the Best Vocalists of the Decade (BroadwayWorld, 2020) and has filled The Green Room 42, 54Below, Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael, Feinstein’s at the Nikko, Blue Strawberry in St. Louis, and will be featured in Chicago’s Cabaret Week later in May.  “Why CAN’T a Woman…?” was named one of the best cabaret shows of the year (2022) by BroadwayWorld, and called “an honest to goodness emerging work of art”.  She has appeared in leading roles Off-Broadway, in National Tours, and at renowned theaters such as Denver Center, Repertory of St. Louis, Ogunquit Playhouse, Goodspeed and many more.

Ron Abel is Lianne’s music director and arranger, whose accolades include: LA Critics Circle Award Winner and L.A. Weekly Award Winner for his original compositions and unique arrangements of Broadway hits for orchestras and singers. He has been the music director for acclaimed vocalists such as Lucie Arnaz, Peter Allen, Joely Fisher, Valarie Pettiford, Julia Migenes, Helen Reddy, and John Lloyd Young.

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE

CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE

STANDING OVATION

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & CAROLE J. BUFFORD

PAUL KREPPEL, RON ABEL, EDA SOROKOFF, MURPHY CROSS

EDA SOROKOFF & TAKAKO HARKNESS

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