Sunday, January 1, 2012

Feel Young And Listen

Just last week, Kennedy Center bestowed honours to Barbara Cook for lifetime achievement, and what wonderful way to start 2012 than by listening to her newest album, "You Make Me Feel So Young: Live At Feinstein." I have seen Ms. Cook numerous times, and she is always magnificent live, so a live album from her is always a cause for celebration. Of late, though, her repertoire has gotten just a tad stale. While she sings these songs gloriously, they have been the same songs for a while. On this new show, she has rebooted her line-up, and the result is nothing short of heavenly.  She even says in her patter how she realized she didn't have a lot of Alan Jay Lerner's songs on her, and that she was rectifying that on her show instantly by including three of his songs that night. And they are all wonderful: "I've Grown Accustomed To His Face," "Wait Till You're Sixty Five," and "What Did I Have That I Don't Have." Her voice may not have the texture of the porcelain soprano from her younger years, but it is still robust and full, as clear in the higher registers as her supple lower ones. I certainly love the more pensive version of "What Did I Have," with a light lilt in the rhythm. "Here's To Life" is a song that suits almost all singers as I have yet to hear an uninspired version of it. Though Shirley Horne's moody version will always be definitive, there is a clarity in how Ms. Cook sings it here that's straightforward and honest. Ms. Cook is also one of those abilities to effectively essay the mindless ("Frim Fram Sauce" ) to sophisticated ("I Live Alone And Like It") and make both of them sound with equal weight. And her phrasing, of course, is impeccable. Just listen to how she syncopates the lyrics to "This Can't Be Love" for the song to be both rhythmic and lyric-interpreted. I could go on and on, but just listen and enjoy. The Kennedy Center did not err in honouring her.  

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