Who's at Feinstein's? Why, It's Feinstein!
source: The New York Times
author: Stephen Holden
To describe Michael Feinstein as the consummate variety show entertainer of 1960-something is not to belittle this diehard nostalgist who served his apprenticeship as Ira Gershwin's secretary. Since making his New York cabaret debut more than a decade ago, Mr. Feinstein has added multiple layers of show business savvy to the boyish, slick-haired singer and pianist.
In his latest incarnations he is a saloonkeeper (he is a guiding force and namesake behind Feinstein's at the Regency, the elegant new supper club in the Regency Hotel) and band singer. (He has just released an album, "Big City Rhythms" for Concord Jazz, in which he swings forcefully with the Maynard Ferguson Big Band.)
At Tuesday's opening night performance of a four-week engagement at the club that bears his name, Mr. Feinstein was backed by the same pop-jazz sextet that recently accompanied Rosemary Clooney there. What he delivered was an ultra-polished lounge show that at various moments evoked the heydays of Danny Kaye, Mel Torme, Eddie Fisher, Liberace and Al Jolson. The most amusing comic turn was "Girl Talk," a slinky pop-jazz period piece by Neal Hefti and Bobby Troup that almost lived up to Mr. Feinstein's description of it as "the last great male chauvinist song written in the 60's."
Although Mr. Feinstein's essence still lies in ballads originating at the piano (a smoothly crooned medley of "Someone to Watch Over Me" joined with "In a Sentimental Mood" was especially impressive), he has done his big-band homework. Much of the show found him stepping out from behind the piano and belting numbers like "Come Back to Me" and "Too Marvelous for Words" with a strength and dynamic suppleness that had eluded him several years ago when he did the same thing at Carnegie Hall.