FOR THE RECORD -- December 1996
AS IF WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE: Before her untimely death last year, singer Nancy LaMott was about to catapult from local cabaret fame to superstardom, finally gaining recognition as one of the country's foremost interpreters of classic songs.
LaMott had known her share of hardships financial problems and a battle with Crohn's disease had plagued most of her adult life. The chanteuse with the throbbing voice, however, possessed a sunny disposition and a great sense of humor that when combined with these problems and one of the must luscious voices around, made her a superb singer.
She left behind five musical gems on the Midder Music label, and composer David Friedman and manager Scott Barnes had enough unreleased material for additional CDs. The first posthumous recording, Nancy LaMott: What's Good About Goodbye, is another example of LaMott's exquisite musicianship. Many of the tracks were initially recorded as presents for WQEW's Jonathan Schwartz, a long-time LaMott admirer and one of the people largely responsible for her increasing popularity. These "gift" selections were luckily recorded on two separate tracks one for piano and one for voice, which enabled the Angeles String Quartet to further enhance the recordings. The majority of the orchestrations are by the legendary Peter Matz, based on musical director Christopher Marlowe's original work.
Some of the songs on the recording include LaMott's wonderful version of the pop hit "Downtown," Rodgers and Hammerstein's "If I Loved You" and a bittersweet "Too Late Now" by the Gershwins. Newer composers are also represented: David Friedman's "We Live On Borrowed Time," and "Your Love" are standouts. The 12-track recording, available in stores or by calling 212-665-0699, is the perfect holiday present, a beautiful reminder of LaMott's enduring legacy.
THE BUTLER DID IT: Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Jeeves, which was short-lived during its initial London run, has been rethought, rewritten and retitled By Jeeves. This rewrite opened to critical praise in England, and the Goodspeed Opera House currently presents the updated version. Polydor has recently released the London cast recording, which contains a good deal of spoken dialogue, plus the bright, upbeat and hummable score by Webber and Ayckbourn. Highlights include "The Code of the Woosters," "Travel Hopefully" and the ballad "Half a Moment." Available at import stores. PLAY ME A RAG: If the book and staging of the upcoming Broadway musical Ragtime prove to be anywhere near as good as its score, The Great White Way is due for a huge hit. With music and lyrics by Once on This Island's Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (above), Ragtime boasts one of the most ravishing scores heard in years. A tale of three couples whose lives intertwine in turn-of-the-century New York, Ragtime doesn't merely tug at your heartstrings, it rips it out: Just listen to Audra McDonald's "Your Daddy's Son" or Brian Stokes Mitchell's full-voiced "Coalhouse's Soliloquy." Other gems: "Back to Before" and "Wheels of a Dream." Songs from Ragtime The Musical is on BMG.
-- By Andrew Gans