569

Nancy LaMott: I'll Be Here With You - A Collection of Rare Live Performances 1978-1995

Samuel Chell By

Sign in to view read count
Fans who have an image of Nancy LaMott as a glamorous and vulnerable diva simply don't understand 'the life'
Nancy LaMott
I'll Be Here With You - A Collection of Rare Live Performances 1978-1995
Midder Music
2008

Nancy LaMott was the last of a breed—not an improvising jazz singer in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Karrin Allyson; not a singer-songwriter like Carole King, Joni Mitchell, or Eva Cassidy. Instead, she was a genuine cabaret artist, the American equivalent of an Edith Piaf, a performer in the grand tradition of a Mabel Mercer or Julie Wilson.



She also was just about the brightest, freshest, classiest vocal talent to emerge during the 1990s. The voice, a magnetic instrument with a life all its own, along with the musicianship, generous spirit and composure come through from the very first moments of this DVD, giving viewers scarcely a hint of the struggles Lamott faced—ranging from the public's ignorance about cabaret to her numerous personal challenges.

This reviewer first heard Nancy LaMott in 1995, performing a sublime "Moon River" on CNBC's Charles Grodin Show. The stardust had barely settled when a week later news came of her death from uterine cancer preceded by years of battling Crohn's disease. Then came insult added to injury when, following what was a hastily-assembled marriage during her last 45 minutes of life, litigation stemming from estate squabbles restricted and all but stopped commercial distribution of her recordings for almost ten years.

Previously only a rough-cut, 30-minute tape of Nancy LaMott video footage was available, providing some insight into the singer's background but offering little in the way of complete musical performances. With 24 selections culled from television appearances and non-professional night club tapings, the present collection does much more than tantalize, offering an opportunity to watch the singer's development from 1978 to 1995—most of the changes merely cosmetic at that. From the very first performance, "But the World Goes 'Round," she displays the power and poise of the trooper she was, even if a bit of "star grooming" was yet to come.

Her musical alter ego, pianist Christopher Marlowe, is the half of the act that sounds somewhat stiff in these early stages. With the sixth selection, "You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby," the audio quality is at least respectable, taking on some of the same frequency range and presence as the singer's commercial recording of the tune. And with Irving Berlin's "I Love A Piano," LaMott's spirited interpretation is supported by her pianist's equally inspired arrangement and playing. (If the art of Nancy Lamott had received attention proportionate to its true worth, Christopher Marlowe would likely be among the most sought-after accompanists on the scene today.)

Fans who have an image of Nancy LaMott as a glamorous and vulnerable diva simply don't understand "the life"—the grind, the empty houses, the monotony of working the same shows for the same audiences, the greater emptiness at realizing there are no more bookings. From the beginning, LaMott comes across on the DVD as a power-packed, small and slightly pudgy but determined, tough and resilient performer. Solid and grounded, she seems made of the right stuff to handle a business that can be relentlessly punishing and ruthlessly unfair. But who knows to what extent the emotional resources she drew upon for her performances—each as much a dramatic "event" as a song reading—also took a physical toll, exacerbating what was a genetic disposition into a life-threatening illness?

The uneven technical quality of these video tapings prevents recommendation of the DVD as the best place to start for those listeners new to LaMott. In fact, practically any of the CDs from her limited, six-disc discography can be safely recommended ahead of the DVD (let song listings be a guide). Only her last studio album, Listen To My Heart (Midder, 1995), a big- production affair that occasionally ventures into Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow territory, might call for some degree of discretionary caution. For those who have already been touched by the voice and now regret never seeing its face, the DVD certainly offers consolation if not another piece to the puzzle of a vibrantly alive artist who, at the age of 43, left us just as her rising star appeared ready to cast its luster over a national audience.


Shop

More Articles

Read Man of the World: The Peter Green Story DVD/Film Reviews Man of the World: The Peter Green Story
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 11, 2017
Read Bob Dylan: No Direction Home - Deluxe 10th Anniversary  Edition DVD/Film Reviews Bob Dylan: No Direction Home - Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi DVD/Film Reviews The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi
by Marc Davis
Published: December 16, 2016
Read The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris DVD/Film Reviews The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Eberhard Weber: The Jubilee Concert" DVD/Film Reviews Eberhard Weber: The Jubilee Concert
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 4, 2016
Read "Rolling Stones: Totally Stripped" DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones: Totally Stripped
by Doug Collette
Published: June 5, 2016
Read "Bill Evans:  Time Remembered The Life And Music Of Bill Evans" DVD/Film Reviews Bill Evans: Time Remembered The Life And Music Of Bill Evans
by Peter Jurew
Published: November 12, 2016
Read "U2: Innocence + Experience: Live in Paris" DVD/Film Reviews U2: Innocence + Experience: Live in Paris
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 17, 2016
Read "Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty" DVD/Film Reviews Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty
by Doug Collette
Published: June 11, 2016
Read "Miles Ahead: A Powerhouse Film, But is it the Truth?" DVD/Film Reviews Miles Ahead: A Powerhouse Film, But is it the Truth?
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: April 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!