Bridges take many forms; some are more functional than others. They vary in strength and aesthetics as well. The multi-talented Ann Hampton Callaway expanded the meaning of this concept in her new show, “Bridges” at Birdland. Just as all bridges are not equal, neither were all of the selections. Although Callaway’s voice is incredible, she was not at the top of her game in some of the numbers chosen to meld with this theme. But her musical message was loud and clear: how “bridges” help us connect with the world. Brazilian composer Milton Nascimento’s song inspired this singer/songwriter’s show. Hampton Calloway declared 2013 “as the year of building bridges.”
She demonstrated that she’s crossed many bridges. She’s an extraordinary talent.
Bridges can be beautiful places just as Ted Rosenthal’s jazz piano was magnificent. Martin Wind on bass and Tim Horner on drums complemented her magnificent voice as well. Her Sondheim interpretation of “No One Is Alone” was spectacular with Rosenthal’s arrangement.
The bridge that didn’t fit for me was her transition to President Obama’s Inauguration and “America the Beautiful,” which perhaps should have been left to Beyonce or Kelly Clarkson.
Callaway has a knack for engaging the audience, and while sitting at the piano she asked for their ideas for a song — somewhat reminiscent of Marvin Hamlisch. She then improvised lyrics incorporating audience suggestions: “Don’t jump;” “Stone Walling,” “Easy Pass,” “I Hate Nature” and others – – – “We finally give each other an emotional easy pass,” she quipped. Food for thought anyway, as was, “I hate nature but looking for an easy pass for loving one another.” This is what makes cabaret challenging, creative and unpredictable.
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” was the highlight of the set for me and enough of a reason not to miss this show. She’ll be performing 2 shows nightly at 8:30 and 11:00 pm through Sat. Jan. 26. For reservations, call 212-581-3080 or www.BirdlandJazz.com.