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Daryl Sherman's Park Avenue Whirl

Daniel Kassell By

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Marion and Alexander Cowings co-star with Daryl Sherman and Vince Giordano's Nighthawks
Daryl Sherman's Park Avenue Whirl,
59 East 59th Theater,
New York, New York
December 17, 2005

"The greatest songs ever written, cabaret vocalist and jazz pianist Daryl Sherman concluded after the first weekend's performance of The Park Avenue Whirl on Saturday, December 17, 2005.

Billed by Executive Producer Peter Tear as "HAT'S OFF! to Arlen, Gershwin, Fred & Ginger, Bing and Bobby Short, Ambrose, Ellington and the Cotton Club," it is not to be a Christmas Show, nor a Cabaret Act, but a Holiday remembrance of a Bobby Short Holiday show at 59 East 59th Theater, NYC.

Through the first half of the 20th century, new songs—sheet music—and a piano in every parlor predominated before radio or television. Immigrants exploded out of Europe to America seeking a new world willing to listen to the "promise of romance, glamour and sophistication (as Margolit Fox, NY Times described 104 year-old Sydney Leff's sheet music cover illustrations) to propel their optimistic, celebratory desire to become middle class.

Who better than Daryl Sherman, who continues to play Cole Porter's piano and sing his songs at the Waldorf Astoria's Cocktail Terrace overlooking its Art Deco Park Avenue Lobby every Wednesday to Sunday at afternoon tea time, to host, sing and play this show.

Joined by Vince Giordano, bandleader, entertainer, vocalist—designated "King of Pre-Swing by David French in Tracks (Apr/May 2005)—plus his eight Nighthawks, they will "whirl you back into a world of gaiety and fun.

From the first moment of Irving Berlin's "Slumming on Park Avenue, followed by Vince Giordano's tuba opening of "I Want To Be Bad, whose lyrics he sang, he captured this audience's attention eliciting giggles as if they were thirty-something again—remembering when they had more opportunity to "Be Bad.

On a more serious note we were reminded by Sherman's piano and vocal performance that entertainer Bobby Short made his own ballad of Connie Boswell's hit, "Sand in My Shoes. Then the whirl continued with lyrical phrases that brought back these memories:

"Wonderful tropical splendor —"Begin the Begine."
"Silver and gold . . . no one is poor —"Street of Dreams."
"Wiki whacky hula and aloha I ka pua —"Swingtime in Honolulu."
"Please come back sweet music —"I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart.
"Gosh oh, Gee oh . . . , where'd you get them peepers —"Jeepers Creepers."
"From the five and ten cents store —"Million Dollar Baby."
"Just remember that sunshine —"Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams."
"There's nothing I couldn't do —"If I Had You."
"We'll turn Manhattan into an isle of joy. —"Manhattan."
"And may all your Christmases be white —"White Christmas."
In every vaudeville show an act stole the show from the band, and from the moment Alexander Cowings tap-danced around the piano to center stage in white tie and black tails he captured our attention as his dad, Marion Cowings—a jazz singer sensation himself—sang and scatted "How High The Moon. The mood immediately changed as Cowings took center stage as if in a smokey Midtown club in 1940-something for "On The Street Of Dreams. Mark McCarron's electric guitar picked out the melody as Cowings sang "as long as love is secure."

Encouraged by Sherman to bring the huge bass saxophone from the podium to center stage, Vince Giordano obliged by playing the melody Bing Crosby and the Rhythm Boys recorded "From Monday On . . . we'll be in clover. Daryl—a trouper—did a delightful dance rendition, all the while singing.

Exceptional instrumental solos by trumpeter Dave Brown, clarinetist Jack Stuckey, and a hot trombone that Brad Shigeta blew into a vintage black stage megaphone, added to the visual authenticity of the Nighthawks.

Great songs that tell a story allow vocalists to bring words to life, as did Daryl Sherman's rendition of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" that enraptured the audience. Returning to New York City, "Manhattan Serenade featured Vince Giordano vocalizing into a Kellogg radio microphone, "A million hearts. on the Great White way. During the finale the audience joined in singing Bing's "White Christmas," accompanied by Sherman, Cowings (Marion and Alexander), Giordano and his musical Nighthawks, filling the 59 East Theater with a perfect musical toast to the Twenties and Thirties for a holiday run to December 30th.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Daryl Sherman's website.


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