Sunday, November 5, 2017

Concert Review: Marilyn Maye at Quality Hill Playhouse

“Oh, that was dirty!”  Marilyn Maye’s apt analysis of her grinding rendition of “Honeysuckle Rose” in the final date of a seven-show run at Quality Hill Playhouse on Sunday affirmed her conviction that age ain’t nothing but a number.

Accompanied by pianist Tedd Firth, bassist Gerald Spaits and drummer Daniel Glass, Maye, 89, was as vital as ever in her 75-minute outing.  The iconic vocalist’s leg kicks are now “only” waist-high, but her voice still soars to the heavens.

In addition to exploring Waller’s best-known compositions, she delivered several Johnny Mercer songs and a spate of less obvious selections including an oddly effective interpretation of the Frankie Valli hit “My Eyes Adored You” and a smoky reading of Barry Manilow’s “Paradise Café.” 

Maye confessed that she didn’t understand why fans demanded that she perform sad songs before she brought down the house with a version of the heartbreaking “Guess Who I Saw Today.”  She followed it with an equally wrenching version of “Fifty Percent,” a song from the 1978 musical “Ballroom.” 

Maye owns James Taylor’s “Secret O’ Life.”  When she intoned the lines “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time… and since we're only here for a while we might as well show some style,” it’s clear that she knows whereof she sings.  “It’s Today,” a showstopper from “Mame” that Maye described as her mantra, was similarly inspiring.

Near the end of her performance, Maye asked a retired restraunteur in the audience if she had baked her a pie.  The woman replied “I’m too old.”  Wrong answer.  Maye testily snapped “no, you’re not.”  After all, Maye had just spent 75 minutes demonstrating that there’s no such thing as “too old.”

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

1 comment:

Cb said...

I had the opportunity to spend most of an entire day with Ms. Maye when she received the American Jazz Museum's "Lifetime Achievement Award" a few years ago. I was working as the Marketing Manager and Director of Communications then and we set up lots of promo interviews as part of the MARCOM for her event. It sold out. Our scheduling of her with Joel Nichols was pretty cool because they know each other really well and it was a great segment. Her concert was first-rate then too.