Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What is Cabaret?

With the 4th Annual AIP Cabaret Festival scheduled at the Long Beach Public Library from May 18-21, I thought that I would take some time to look at this unique genre.
Below you will find an explanation of "Cabaret," taken from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cabaret is a form of entertainment featuring comedy, song, dance, and theatre, distinguished mainly by the performance venue — a restaurant or nightclub with a stage for performances and the audience sitting around the tables (often dining or drinking) watching the performance. The turn of the 20th century introduced a revolutionized cabaret culture. Performers included Josephine Baker and Brazilian drag performer João Francisco dos Santos (aka Madame Satã), both of African descent. The venue itself can also be called a "cabaret." These performances could range from political satire to light entertainment, each being introduced by a master of ceremonies, or MC.
The term is a French word for the taprooms or cafés, where this form of entertainment was born, as a more artistic type of café-chantant. It is derived from Middle Dutch cabret, through Old North French camberette, from Late Latin camera. It basically means "small room."
Cabaret also refers to a Mediterranean style brothel — a bar with tables and women who mingle with and entertain the clientele. Traditionally these establishments can also feature some form of stage entertainment: often singers & dancers — the bawdiness of which vary with the quality of the establishment. It is the more sophisticated and classier cabaret which eventually engendered the type of establishment and art-form which is the subject of the remainder of this article.
American Cabaret
In the United States, Cabaret diverged into several different and distinct styles of performance mostly due to the influence of Jazz Music. Chicago Cabaret focused intensely on the larger band ensembles and reached its zenith in the Speakeasies, and Steakhouses (Like The Palm (restaurant)) of the Prohibition Era.
New York Cabaret never developed along the darkly political lines of its European counterparts, but did feature a great deal of social commentary. When New York Cabarets featured Jazz, they tended to focus on famous vocalists like Eartha Kitt and Capucine (Germaine Lefebvre) rather than instrumental musicians.
Cabaret in the United States began to disappear in the sixties, due to the rising popularity of rock concert shows and television variety shows. Perhaps the greatest living American Cabaret performer is Eartha Kitt, famous for her role as Catwoman in the tongue in cheek television series, Batman. The Art form itself still survives vestigially in two popular entertainment formats: Stand-up comedy, and in the dark comic performances that may still be seen in the drag show and camp performances in the nations GLBT community.
Cabaret is currently undergoing a renaissance of sorts in the United States as new generations of performers reinterpret the old forms in both music (see Dark Cabaret below) and theatre.

What is your "take" on Cabaret? Please post your own definitions.

Please note - there is a Cabaret music display in the media center. Here you will find popular recordings from such artists as Barbara Cook, Ute Lemper, Edith Piaf, and many, many more.

Monday, May 01, 2006

4th Annual AIP Cabaret Arts Festival

The 4th Annual Cabaret Arts Festival will be held at the Long Beach Public Library May 18 - 21. If you have seen any of the shows in the past, I'm sure you will return for some of the best "nightclub" entertainment on Long Island. Susan James and the folks at Artists in Partnership (AIP) transform the LBPL Auditorium into an intimate "lounge," sans cocktails. Some of most talented cabaret performers in the metropolitan area will entrance you and capture your heart with their wonderful renditions and interpretations of popular standards and original music.

Shows are scheduled for Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon. The full lineup follows and can also be seen on the AIP website:

Thursday, May 18, 8 PM – Opening Night Cabaret Performance
SUSAN JAMES “Simply Susan: Listen To My Heart”
with Tedd Firth on piano
Susan shares her soul with songs that have special meaning in her life.
“ every note, every nuanced gesture rang professional…. One regret was that we don’t own a cabaret or we’d book her in a heartbeat.” Shirley Bogart Cohen, author

Friday, May 19, 8 PM - Cabaret Performance
MARIEANN MERINGOLO "Here’s To The Ladies! A Salute To Great Ladies In Song"
with Doyle Newmyer on piano
This award-winning vocalist comes direct from her engagement at NYC’s Hideaway Room @ Helen’s.
“If k.d.lang’s DNA were to get whipped together with Barbra Streisand’s…..the result might well be Marieann Meringolo” TIMEOUT NEW YORK
“”The voice…will woo you, win you, & whisper in your ear” NEW YORK NEWSDAY

Saturday, May 20, 2 PM - "Cabaret Friends" Performances and Professional Panel
Established Cabaret Artists from The Songbook Project perform and comment on cabaret
Nancy McGraw, vocalist of “Cinema Songs” at Danny’s and former cabaret club owner,
Sidney Myer, comic singer/performer and also booking agent for NYC’s club “Don’t Tell Mama”, Tedd Firth, Musical Director & jazz pianist , and Barbara Brussell, vocalist of “Lerner In Love” CD
"Nancy fills the stage with a genuinely warm presence, inhabiting each song and investing it with her own unmannered expressiveness." Peter Haas, CABARET SCENES Magazine
“Sidney Myer…an engagingly mischievous dispenser of musical repartee”
Stephen Holden, THE NEW YORK TIMES

Saturday, May 20, 8 PM - Cabaret Performance
with Tedd Firth on piano
This duo enchants you with jazz interpretations of great American popular standards in an upbeat fashion.
“she’s got great style, great charts – and boy, does she have her standards!” Barry Manilow
“…sophisticated songbird with rich, silky vocal style.. and a swinging baritone with an offhand Sinatra swagger…” Elizabeth Ahlfors, CABARET SCENES

Sunday, May 23, 2 PM - Cabaret Performance
A Sentimental Journey of Standard and Pop Classics”

Phillip matches veteran & contemporary songwriters from every decade with fresh interpretations.
“ …a theatrical tie to the storyline, incisive perception of the lyric, pitch-perfect renditions of the melodies, and a clear, clean sound, … one of the master craftsmen of the cabaret art.”
Elizabeth Ahlfors, CABARET SCENES

For further info, call AIP 516-432-6342 or visit website:

This project is made possible, in part, with funds from the Long Beach Public Library

* AIP celebrates Long Beach’s Centennial 1906 - 2006 “From Sandbar to City” *

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

More Musical Favorites

Here is the rest of My Favorite CD's of 2005:

Get Behind Me Satan - White Stripes MR WHIT GBM W62

Eric Greenwood in a review for DrawerB says, "It isn’t until you’ve given it your full attention that the album starts to reveal its true depth and worth with songs that stick to your bones." I couldn't agree more or say it better.

Listen Here - Eddie Palmieri MJ PALM LH P62

Palmieri puts a latin spin on a few jazz standards with the help of some high profile guests such as John Scofield, Michael Brecker, and Regina Carter. "In Flight" opens the album with Carter stealing the show and setting the bar at an impossibly high level. The rest of the album tries to live up - but falls just a little short. Still a great listen.

Manual Guajiro Mirabal - Manual Mirabal Q CUBA MGM N02

Another Latin gem from the people who brought you the Buena Vista Social Club. Manual Guajiro Mirabel is the trumpet player that you may remember from BVSC. It is hard to imagine that at age 71, this is the first solo album for Mirabel. Quite a debut!!

Magic Time - Van Morrisson MA MORR MT M02

A year would not be complete without a great album from Van the Man. Lots of typical "blue-eyed soul" - but even the typical sounds fine from Morrisson. He keeps things fresh with interpretations of jazz standards: I'm Confessin', This Love of Mine, and Lonely and Blue.

Plans - Death Cab for Cutie MA DEAT PLA D42

I can't say that I'm enamored with their name - but Death Cab for Cutie delivers an album that I loved to listen to. They sometimes remind me of early REM. Plans is their major label debut after four albums on "indie" labels.

Happy New Year Everyone!

The Blog is Back!!!

Yeah, Yeah, I know - its been a while - but the blog is back. My pre-New Years resolution is to try to be a bit more regular about posting. It's right up there with "I will lose 20 lbs before springtime." So we will see.

As we approach the end of the year, we enter the season of the "Top 10." It is the time when critics dig deep into their bags and come up with lists of obscure titles that are bound to make you scratch your head and wonder if you are living on a different planet!!! Today, I offer my list of obscure musical CD's. These are items that are all available in the library collection. Some are so obscure that they actually appear on a few critics' lists. Here are some of my favorites of 2005, in no particular order:

I'm Awake It's Morning - Bright Eyes - MA BRIG IWA B72

I spent a lot of time listening to this one when it was first released and I am still moved by Conor Oberst's quavering voice. It doesn't hurt to have Emmy Lou Harris sitting in on a few tunes. This has got a real rootsy and folk feel to it as opposed to the more energetic Digital Ash which was released simultaneously.

Chavez Ravine - Ry Cooder MJ COOD CR C72

Cooder has given us an incredibly interesting album both musically and conceptually.
He captures the feeling of the largely chicano community of Los Angeles in the 50's as it was about to be displaced by the building of Dodger Stadium. The accompanying booklet is a real treat, too.

De Nova - Redwalls MA REDW DN R27

What a fun group! They remind me of the Black Crowes, but they also sound very much like the Beatles on a lot of these songs. Somehow they manage to find their own voice and the result is a fun album that touches a lot of musical bases.

Gogol Bordello - Gypsy Punks MA GOGO GP G71

One critic says this group does to gypsy music what the Pogues do to Irish music. They are certainly a high energy group - think Boris and Natasha after one too many cups of espresso!! But this music was made to be revved up.

Illinoise - Sufjan Stevens MA STEV CFI S14

This is part of an ambitious project that will eventually yield an album about each of the 50 states. The music is complex, the writing poetic, and the singing terrific. This is unique piece of work. Definitely worth a listen or two.

More to come.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fun (and Prizes) with Film Polls

The British film magazine, Total Film released the results of its recent Top 100 Movies of all time poll. Such an undertaking is bound to get some film buffs up in arms but it is also an opportunity to revisit, think about, and discuss some of your past favorites. So let's have some fun with this!!

Here is the link to the magazine's list:

Check it out and feel free to post your comments or put together a Top 10 list of your own. A list of 10 is a bit more manageable than 100 for our purposes - but don't get hung up on the number - I'll accept Top 8 lists and Top 12 lists as well. There will be a prize for any LB library patron that posts.

If you have never posted - send me an e-mail at include the word "blog" or "Michael" in your subject line.
You will receive an invitation to join the lblibraryav blog.
Follow the directions and you'll be bloggin within a few minutes.

Just to get the ball rolling - here are 10 of my faves:

1. The Godfather (I, although II is right there with it)
2. Some like it Hot
3. Apocolypse Now
4. Annie Hall
5. Psycho
6. Magnificent Seven
7. Star Wars
8. Bridge on the River Kwaii
9. West Side Story

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fall Music Lineup

A recent issue of Rolling Stone (Oct.20,2005 issue 985 page 20) previews some of this fall's new musical releases. Here are some highlights:

Trey Anastasio - Shine - You never know what to expect from the former Phish frontman, but you generally wind up liking it!(Nov. 1)

Santana - All That I Am - Lots of guests come out to play with Carlos including: American Idol runner-up, Bo Bice, Steven Tyler, Sean Paul, Mary J. Blige, and Los Lonely Boys.(Nov. 1)

Neil Diamond - 12 Songs - Returns to his "roots" in this Rick Rubin produced venture.(Nov. 8)

Pharrell - In My Mind - Guest spots from Gwen Stefani, Jay-Z, and Slim Thug on this album split between Hip-Hop and smooth R&B. (Nov 15)

Madonna - Confessions on a Dance Floor - The "Material Girl" never fails to dazzle. (Nov. 15)

Jamie Foxx - Unpredictable - Appearances by Kanye West and Pharrell. (Nov. 22)

Notorious B.I.G. - The Notorious B.I.G. Duets This posthumous recording features a duet with Bob Marley. (Nov. 29)

Shakira - Oral Fixation - She continues to "shake things up." (Nov.29)

For a complete list check out the Rolling Stone website:

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Random Stuff

If you did not get a chance to watch No Direction Home on PBS last week - don't despair - The DVD has been released and we should have it on our shelves in a few weeks. The soundtrack has also been released and should be available next week. This film, directed by Martin Scorsese, chronicles the early years of Bob Dylan's career. Featuring never seen before performance footage and interviews with Dylan and others, Scorsese captures not only Dylan's emergence as a musical icon, but of a country on the verge of major changes. Part 1 focuses on Dylan's musical influences and of the passing of the torch from the "beat" generation to the "hippie" movement. Part 2 shows how Dylan stays true to his own vision, despite enormous pressure from the press and his fans.
No one makes concert movies like Scorsese. The Last Waltz and his more recent PBS Special on the Blues are prime examples. No Direction Home offers even more. Don't miss it.

I just heard the soundtrack to the recently released movie, Everything is Illuminated. It is very different, to say the least. Along with lovely traditional Russian Gypsy melodies come some hard rockin gypsy punk rock tunes from the groups: Gogol Bordello, Csokolom, Leningrad, and Tin Hat Trio. I can't wait to see the movie!
Check out some of these groups - you probably won't understand a word - but you won't stop moving. We own the latest CD from Gogol Bordello and I will be looking for releases from the other groups.

I also listened to Back Against the Wall.
Billy Sherwood produced this replication of Pink Floyd's The Wall, that features many talented musicians paying homage to Pink Floyd. Among the players are former Yes members, Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman; Keith Emerson of ELP; Steve Morse,guitarist extraordinaire from The Dixie Dregs, Deep Purple, and Kansas; Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull; and Tony Levin, bassist from King Crimson.
Why bother replicate this classic when the original still packs quite a wallop?- you might ask. I suspect that that this one is purely for the musicians - an opportunity to play songs from one of rock's masterpieces in the spirit of the original. This is an exercise in craftsmanship rather than originality. Having not listened to Pink Floyd in quite a while, I found this album very enjoyable. Why bother comparing them?- I might ask. Sit back and enjoy!!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Jazz Fest Fotos

Adelson trades "licks" with Chielli Minucci

Mike Barnett opens the show on Saturday

The dynamic Perrita Kitson

The Kerry Kearney Band

Mike Barnett on guitar

Kerry Kearney -psycha"delta" blues

Debbie Knapper Band - gives us funk and soul

Steve Adelson jams with the Bryan Carrott group