CD Review: Linda Lavin “Love Notes”

September 21, 2020 | By | Add a Comment

Linda Lavin’s new CD, Love Notes, is a timeless collection of terrific songs from the Great American Songbook that has the feel and sound of a classic album from the ’50s or ’60s but with a few surprising tracks from the likes of the Eagles and Steely Dan.  Lavin sounds better than ever and the joy of her performance is infectious.  

Opening with a rare Cole Porter (if there is such a thing), “I’ve Got My Eyes On You,” the singer wastes no time establishing her absolute ownership of this material and revealing the sparkling support that her musicians provide throughout—of particular note is music director Billy Stritch on piano and vocals, and violinist Aaron Weinstein who proves equally adept and entertaining on mandolin.   I am always tickled when a singer includes “Not A Care In The World” (Vernon Duke, John LaTouche) and I defy anyone not to smile when they hear Lavin deliver “I’m as gay as a Disney cow.”  Including the not always done verse, Rodgers & Hart’s “I Wish I Were in Love Again” shines as fresh and new as if it were written yesterday. Conversely, “I Can’t Tell You Why” (Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit, Glenn Frey) which was (comparatively) written yesterday, takes on the luster of an American classic especially when paired with “I Walk A Little Faster” (Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh).

 “Chega de Saudade” (“No More Blues”) ( Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes) is a dazzler, with wonderful supporting vocals by Stritch.  An original by Joel Lindsey and Wayne Haun, “Stars Would Fall,” is an instant classic—a beautifully fashioned love song given more than its due by Lavin’s romantic, soaring delivery. A couple of Duke Ellington tunes put her in a solid, classic jazz setting which fits her like a hand in a silken glove. Her version “You Must Believe In Spring” (Michel Legrand, Jacques Demy, Marilyn and Alan Bergman), a complex song that has been the downfall of many a vocalist, is a revelation in an effortless performance of passion and beauty.  

 “How High The Moon” (Nancy Hamilton, Morgan Lewis) is a joyful closer to a recording with one high point after another.  The repertoire, the production, the arrangements, the playing, and the exceptional vocals come together to give us one of the CDs of the year.  Linda Lavin has become, over time, a major vocalist whose personal takes on so many great songs are a delight and a wonder.


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About the Author ()

Gerry Geddes has conceived and directed a number of musical revues—including the Bistro- and MAC Award-winning "Monday in the Dark with George" and "Put On Your Saturday Suit" – Words & Music by Jimmy Webb—and directed many cabaret artists, among them André De Shields, Helen Baldassare, Darius de Haas, and drag artist Julia Van Cartier. He directed "The David Drumgold Variety Show" monthly at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, and has produced a number of recordings, including two Bistro-winning CDs. He's taught vocal performance at The New School, NYU, and London's Goldsmith's College, and continues to conduct private workshops and master classes. As a writer and critic, he has covered New York's performing arts scene for over 40 years in both local and national publications; his lyrics have been sung by cabaret and recording artists. Up until the pandemic, Gerry was an artist in residence at Pangea, presenting a monthly variety show called "Fabulous First Fridays."

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