Monday, March 18, 2013

Birthday Boy: Kander with a K

John Kander, the composing half of the treasurable duo of Kander and Ebb, is 86 today.  I can think of no better reason to spend a few minutes savoring his gift for melodies that are both haunting and irresistible.  It can be easy, in the face of anthems such as "Cabaret," "All That Jazz", and, inevitably, "New York, New York," to forget the softer Kander and Ebb songs, romantic numbers and comic ones, or, as here, tender songs that both fit within their original stage context and stand alone as little tales of longing and loss.  Not every Kander and Ebb is a socko raveup for Miss Minnelli, after all.

Mr. Bryn Terfel, an operatic sensation whom I don't normally associate with crossover work, here does creditably by "I Don't Remember You" (from The Happy Time) and "Sometimes a Day Goes By" (from Woman of the Year).  Both shows are comparatively lesser Kander and Ebb, but these are lovely, lovely songs.

If you're in the mood for a full banquet of K&E (and move fast), some kind soul has posted in its entirety this year's PBS tribute - it's the kind of thing the YouTube gods don't generally let stand, so don't delay...


  1. They do razzle dazzle like no one's business. And I love it all.

    But you are quite right that they have some smaller, quieter, lovely songs. I'm also partial to "A Quiet Thing" from Flora the Red Menace and "Yes" from 70, Girls, 70.

    Their comic songs are unparalleled. "Class" is a personal fave.

    One of my great theater regrets is not getting my butt into NYC to see The Scottsboro Boys three years ago. It ran only 3 months. But the concept is stunning and the score is brilliant.

    I've had the good fortune to cross paths with Mr. Kander at the theater on a few occasions. Quite a handsome (and tall) older gent with a pleasant and gracious manner. I always want to stand on a crate and yell to the crowds in the lobby, "Do you know who this is? Do you know how talented this man is?!"