Singers from the past and present…
At one time, Julie Andrews was the queen of the movie screen, with iconic performances in musicals like “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music.” Not to mention, she was the star of the stage version of My Fair Lady, but that’s a story for the gossip columnists. Carol Burnett was THE comedienne of the 70s TV scene, ruling the airwaves with her variety/comedy show. These two discs, recorded almost 10 years apart, find them at Carnegie Hall in 1962 just before their fame and fortune, and at Lincoln Center on a night in 1972, when they were both household names. These are TV specials, and that is the most difficult part of these two shows. While there is plenty of singing, and most of it excellent (their harmonies are to die for), too much time is taken up on musical vignettes that are obviously visual. Comedic routines like “From Russia” and “From Switzerland” are very geographic: you had to be there. The medley of comedic and 60s songs are the highlights, but a dvd should have been included here, as you feel like you’re only getting the second half of a great joke.
Vocalist Stephanie Nakasian likes to take her time introducing a tune. While she delivers the goods on pieces like “Lonesome Road” and “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” she patiently opens with spare support while she sets the mood and table with vulnerable openings. She’s also able to snap to a sharp rhythm, as she caroms through “Nica’s Dream” with ease, but she seems at home on the love seat, as she woos through a seductive “I Concentrate on You” and “You and the Night and the Music” with seductive charm, with her arm over the back of the chair as she gazes into your eyes.
Susan Arioli has the sound of an old soul. This lovingly moody session reminds me of those classic Julie London records way back when, but without the come hither album sleeve. She has guitarist Jordan Officer on all of the cuts, with a supporting guest team ranging from a simple bass (on a haunting “Come Rain or Come Shine”) to a full sax section and rhythm team (on a smoky night clubish “Here’s To The Losers”). Her voice is low soprano, which holds well on these lonesome ballads, with a French reading of “What A Difference A Day Makes” (“Un Jour de Difference”) a clever and successful idea. A perfect album for a melancholy evening of reflection.