Friday, July 21, 2006

Pinky and Bob

note: a slightly different version of the following post---with list-specific references---appeared today on the Yahoo list serve, Songbirds.

Singer Pinky Winters and pianist Bob Florence were nothing short of sensational Wednesday night in their premiere Gardenia Room (Hollywood) engagement. This marked the first time that they have appeared together in quite a while.

Years ago Bob and Pinky worked together all over town all the time. They were a team. It is what I call their "tip jar years." Then one time, at the last minute, Bob couldn't make it, and so Pinky secured the services of master accompanist Lou Levy for the gig. And the rest is romantic and musical history. In Bob's introduction of Pinky, he alluded to how much he enjoyed the role of "matchmaker," but implied that it sure was nice to be working with her again.

Especially in Los Angeles, the likes of Pinky and Bob are entirely used to and familiar with, alas, sometimes playing second fiddle to whatever else is going on in the room, but the sold-out crowd last night was entirely, in the words of one attendee, "focused." There was not so much as a single fork rattle---welll maybe one or two---or blender buzz to be heard throughout their ninety-minute set.

The evening served as a tribute to legendary music man Johnny Mandel. And not only was Mandel along with his wife Martha there, but also (the dreaded phrase "legendary" again leaps to mind) songwriters Marilyn and Alan Bergman. Along with a number of other music figures, including guitarist Bob Bain, singer and occasional plectrist herself, Diane Hubka, and songwriter Donald Kahn.

Also present was West Coast cabaret maven Les Traub, "without whom". . .which is to say that he produced the evening. It has taken him quite some time to bring it off, i.e., conflicting schedules, etc., but it was worth the wait. Among the other pluses of the evening was, in Pinky's view, a "perfect sound system that helped make it all come together." Or words to that effect.

The evening served as a belated record launch party for Pinky's SSJ Records CD "Sings Johnny Mandel. . .with Lou Levy," which came out in February.

Here's what Bob and Pinky performed: Overture (Florence solo), Emily (with the new M&A Bergman verse preceding the familiar Mercer lyric), Shining Sea, Little Did I Dream, Don't Look Back, Unless It's You - Quietly There, Sure As You're Born (the first song the Bergmans ever wrote with Mandel, according to Johnny's quiet prompt from the audience), M*A*S*H. (Florence solo piano), Close Enough for Love, A Time for Love, I Never Told You, You Are There, The Shadow of Your Smile , Take Me Home, and encore: I'll Always Leave the Door a Little Open (lyrics by Richard Rodney Bennett and Frank Underwood).

I won't go so far as to say Pinky and Bob made musical history last night, but if not, they came. . .Close Enough.

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