By Michael Atkinson
By Luke Winkie
By Steve Weinstein
By Brian McManus
By Brian McManus
By Dan McQuade
By Dan McQuade
By Brian McManus
On last year's The Lonesome Touch, the pair finds it in disturbingly gorgeous inversions of mood. In Hayes's hands, a jig could be the saddest thing ever, and like Roddy Frame putting boo-hoo desperation into Van Halen's "Jump," he shows how a well-worn melody can be refurbished. In Tribeca, pieces such as "Out on the Ocean" hinted at the grandeur of Ravel while sporting mud-stained boots.
Throughout the night, the garrulous Hayes balanced the widespread melancholy with between-tune banter as droll as that of Richard Thompson or Peter Stampfel. Introducing a lament about the anguish of immigration, he cautioned the crowd not to be too forlorn. "Think of it as being about something pleasant, because we won't be singing the lyrics, just playing the tune." Jim Macnie
Loesser Is More
It was Emily Loesser's idea. For "Wall to Wall Frank Loesser" 12 hours of songs at Symphony Space last Saturday why not get the Titaniccast to do the Guys and Dolls showstopper "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat"? As the songwriter's daughter and a member of the Titaniccompany, Emily Loesser had little trouble engineering the stunt. So at dinnertime, there they were, the rousing crew led by loose-limbed Don Stephenson.
And that was only a few minutes in a day with so many peaks it had the exhilaration of scaling the Alps. Throughout the 11 a.m.to 11 p.m. marathon, a few important points were made explicit by first-rate performances. The first is that although Loesser isn't always included on the great Broadway composer-lyricist shortlist, he should be. As one of the creators of Guys and Dolls, The Most Happy Fella, and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, he was a master at writing for character.
Sneezing and chirruping, Faith Prince sang "Adelaide's Lament" (also from Guys and Dolls) as if to prove that the mock discourse on psychosomatic symptoms affecting relationships is the best comedy number ever written. Loesser respected classical form, but intent on never repeating himself, he also experimented successfully with presentation. Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Victoria Clark demonstrated as much in their merry rendition of "Been a Long Day," the switch-off trio from How To Succeed.
Before Loesser came east (he worked in Hollywood until the late '40s), he earned his stripes writing fresh pop ditties that became big-band standouts. (Often he was serving as lyricist to Victor Schertzinger or Hoagy Carmichael.) Linda Lavin sang a sultry version of "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" that underlined Loesser's ease at tossing off a chart-topper. Ivy Austin trip-hammered "Murder, He Says," and proved some of Loesser's best work was written for Betty Hutton.
True, not everything he wrote was top-drawer (his last produced show, Pleasure and Palaces, was far from it), but Loesser's lesser remains greater than lessers' greater. David Finkle
Gregg Diamond, 19491999
Gregg Diamond, disco auteur, combined a West Village and East Village mentality in dance hits that displayed, at once, punk/glam outrage, the latest street jive, and flawless musicianship. Diamond died unexpectedly on March 14 of gastrointestinal bleeding. Trained at the Berklee School of Music, Diamond drummed onstage for everyone from James Brown to Jobriath. But it was his strong piano playing and a decision to knuckle down at songwriting that resulted in the 1976 worldwide smash "More, More, More" by the Andrea True Connection.
Augmenting his band Steve Love on guitar, Jim Gregory on bass, and his brother, engineer/coproducer Godfrey Diamond on drums with the finest New York session players, he used the leverage of his hit single to create a series of albums under the names Bionic Boogie and Starcruiser that introduced some of pop's greatest singers to the dance floor. Gwen Guthrie, Zachary Sanders, and Ullanda McCollough starred in the dizzying "Risky Changes," and a song that predicted the Chic vocal formula, "Dance Little Dreamer," on 1977's Bionic Boogie.
The following year, Hot Butterfly ratcheted up Diamond's game stunningly, delivering street-vérité lyrics and surrealistic sleaze through a truly celestial choir: Sanders, Luther Vandross, Cissy Houston, and David Lasley. In the Lasley-led Beach-Boys-go-to-church "Paradise," Sanders's raucous "Chains," and especially Luther's first true star turns on record, "Hot Butterfly" and "Cream (Always Rises to the Top)," the vocalists were an accomplished ensemble under the assured direction of an innovative young lion as if Diamond were setting out to make Pulp Fiction or Boogie Nights in the recording studio. His eye caught the crass and the beautiful, in lines like "Haddaya like your love?" and the one that many of us will treasure always, "Fly up in the sky, like a butterfly, baby." Brian Chin