Mady Kaye Goes Cabaret: A Tribute to Tin Pan Alley
'Kaye is an unabashed fan of the Great American Songbook, and just watching her fervor for it can be captivating. She dances her way through the subject, gliding from anecdote to anecdote, spinning from this composer to that, praising their work in turns light and graceful. And occasionally she's even inspired to kick up her heels literally, as in a sprightly Charleston number. Her elation pulls us in and infects us. For many, the term 'history lesson' suggests a dry and dusty audit of some antique past, conducted by an ancient scholar almost as dessicated as the bones of his subject. But for those who attended the history lesson this past weekend at the Z Cabaret, the term ought to possess a much livelier character. Make no mistake, it was a history lesson: from the get-go, longtime local chanteuse Mady Kaye made it quite clear that her 'Tribute to Tin Pan Alley' was intended to enlighted it's audience regarding the history of 20th-century American song. Via her opening aural collage, she walked us back in time to the streets of New York City just after World War I, where we could hear the music publishing house 'pluggers'--in-house pianists whose job was to play the company's hits over and over and over--tickling the ivories for passersby. And throughout the show, she filled our ears with names and dates, the hired-gun composers and lyricists whose melodic creations changed the face of popular music and the years in which they scored some of their biggest hits. Yes, Kaye was holding class last week. But when the subject of the lesson is as rich in romance and humor as America's Golden Age of Song and your guide through the past is as enthusiastic and appealing as Mady Kaye, well, then the lesson is a pleasure. But Kaye beguiles her audience with more than her broad smile and playful patter. She is a skillful interpreter of Tin Pan Alley's classics, and when she gives voice to these masterpieces of wit and romance, she communicates all the craft, all the feeling that has made these songs standards not merely because they brought a standardized approach to song structure but because they are embraced the world over as the standard for popular songs. Kaye's polished technique makes every word clear, every clever phrase ring, even when her delivery is hushed. In fact, some of the singer's most effective work comes when she sings softly; her voice comes out like a taut thread of silk: shiny but surprisingly supple and strong. N one 'class,' Kaye couldn't possibly cover all the great songsmiths of Tin Pan Alley, but with a program that included such highlights of the Golden Age as Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar's 'Tea for Two,' Fats Waller's 'Keepin' Out of Mischief Now,' Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart's 'Manhattan,' George and Ira Gershwin's 'They All Laughed,' Cole Porter's 'You're the Top,' Harold Arlen and 'Yip' Harburg's 'Over the Rainbow,' and Duke Ellington's 'It Don't Mean a Thing If it Ain't Got that Swing' (which swung with a mightly jazz piano solo from accompanists Jeff Hellmer), Kaye's 'Tribute' provided a winning introduction to the subject, a survey course right up our alley.' - Robert Faires, Arts Editor, Austin Chronicle, Theater Review Mady Kaye Does a Ritzy Cabaret Act 'Mady's cabaret-style act is as lustrous as a polished gem... Many performers who call themselves singers would do well to play Mady's CDs. Not a syllable or intonation is lost, however complicated the lyrics. And like Ella Fitzgerald, Mady almost always sings the verse as well as the chorus. She does so with melodic and lyrical precision as well as her trademark saucy attitude.' - Dot Fowler, Arts & Entertainment, Lake Travis View, Concert Review.