By Edward Kliszus
Billy Stritch’s Birthday Bash is a complete success! His appearance at Birdland was a splendid way to celebrate a special event. Although it wasn’t my birthday, I felt honored as a member of the party. The menu items were delicious, service great, with music that left us all feeling wonderful. It was great fun with audience smiles, applause, and appreciation.
Sound, lighting, ambiance, music, were perfection. Stritch was debonair, elegant, handsome, and sharp in his light blue suit, crisp white shirt, and jacket adorned pocket handkerchief. He mentioned something about “59”, but I heard a fellow audience member call out “27”.
Stritch was accompanied by Tom Hubbard on Bass and Eric Halvorson on drums. As Stritch sang he moved hearts while leading us through decades of music from the American songbook. He spoke about the music’s provenance on film and stage, introducing us to the original recording artists and songwriters. His intimate anecdotes about his work with music and theater celebrities like Liza Minnelli and Tony Bennett gave the songs special meaning. He described each selection like it was his best friend.
Stritch accompanies himself as a singer and solos as a jazz pianist on the piano. Equally comfortable as a vocalist or jazz pianist, he shifts chromatically with ease through fresh, clever musical arrangements. Stritch often improvises and features his trio members while displaying his own acumen as a trio player. A gentleman artist, he took care to credit not only his partners on stage, but Birdland staff like sound engineer Rob Polanco.
This cleverly choreographed selection of songs included booth the well known and surprises heard less often. We were treated to Old Devil Moon (Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner), I Can Dream Can’t I, (Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal), Since You left New York (Billy Stritch and Sandy Knox), a medley of songs from the film Singing in the Rain, Mountain Greenery (Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart), and many more.
Check out Stritch’s latest recordings like his “Sunday Set”.
Billy Stritch is at Birdland through February 12, so move quickly to get seats at your cabaret table. The shows are at 7 pm and 9:30 pm. Birdland – located at 315 West 44th Street. For tickets click here or go to Birdlandjazz.com
Birdland requires proof of vaccination for all staff, artists and patrons. In accordance with the most recent NYC Covid-19 guidelines. We will be requiring proof of vaccination at the door in the form of a CDC card, Excelsior passport or a picture of your CDC card with a valid ID.