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Rosie Clooney: As Good as it Gets

Date: 2000-06-12
source: New York Observer: On the Town with Rex Reed
author: Rex Reed

Rosemary Clooney singing Brazilian sambas, cool and sad, is a heat quencher that puts lemon in your lemonade. in her new act, Brazil, at Feinstein's at the REgency (through June 10), she is joined by seven ace musicians in a celebration of both the bossa nova and her new CD of the same title on Concord Jazz.

Don't expect anything familiar. "DeSafinado," one of several dreamy duets she sings with guitarist John Pizzarelli, is musically on target and full of surprises. Even the overexposed "One Note Samba," with John singing a warm counter melody is anything but routine. "Once I Loved," taken in her usual unique style, offers poignant lyrics taken in small doses, like sips of wine. Heavily influenced by the legendary albums Sinatra recorded with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Roske even "lifts" Frank's arrangement of "I Concentrate on You" because, she insists, "it can't be improved," then proceeds to give it her own spin. Straying from the act's theme she interpolates "I Cried For You," "Who's Sorry Now" and "Goody, Goody" into a gently swinging jam session that stops the show.

On her early recordings, her voice may have been younger and springier, but the way Rosie Clooney sings today shows more of life's experience, while her short breathy line readings lend more of a jazz tempo and heartbreaking lyricism to her polished, durable style. She's probably tired of all the analysis and flattery she's getting in her autumnal years. My guess is she's jut happy to get out there and get off in one piece.

But I kid you not. This is as good as it gets, and the gratitude I feel for her uncomplicated, syncopated artistry stretches from Park Avenue to Rio.