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Music Review

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What About Today?
Live at 54 Below


Artist: Melissa Errico
Label: Broadway Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 30 October 2015

As most of you will know, one of my favourite series of recordings over the past few years has been Broadway Records' excellent Live At 54 Below series. There have been many, mostly excellent volumes so far, and I was pleased to receive two new ones this week to listen to.

The first one is by one of my favourite Broadway leading ladies, the delightful Melissa Errico. Melissa Errico, Tony Award nominee, has starred on Broadway, on network television and film and is an accomplished recording artist and musical concert performer. Her Broadway credits include starring roles in My Fair Lady, Dracula, White Christmas, High Society, Les Miserables, Anna Karenina and Amour for which she was nominated for a Best Actress Tony Award. She starred in Stephen Sondheim's Passion and his Sunday In The Park With George. She has released three studio albums previously, and a recent 3-song digital single 'More Lullabies & Wildflowers' to benefit her charity.

This 15-song collection includes 11 tracks, which Melissa has never recorded before, including the strong title track by David Shire and an alluring dash of Bacharach ('The April Fools') to accent her fluent performances of a pair of Michel Legrand classics. Time-traveling back to her 1993 starring role as Broadway's Eliza Doolittle, fans finally get a recorded version of 'Show Me' from Lerner & Loewe's My Fair Lady along with her favourite song from Frank Wildhorn's Dracula, The Musical, which was also never recorded.

There is a generous sprinkling of Sondheim that is guaranteed to satisfy his legion of fans as well as Errico's devotees: a comedic and vocal tour de force with 'Getting Married Today,' a sweetly jazzy 'Small World' and a bewitching rendition of 'No More' from Into The Woods which, in Errico's soulful and philosophical voice, becomes a life lesson of its own. Errico also takes the roof off the nightclub with 'Meadowlark', 'What Did I Have That I Don't Have?' (her tribute to Eydie Gormé) and some unexpected disco!

Of her work at 54, Melissa has said "I never had so much fun with an audience in my life. I was so happy to have a second run there, and this was the most dynamic set list I have ever sung thanks to my wonderful director and the band of a lifetime. I juggled some big songs in some high heels that week! I also lost an earring one night and spent a good deal of time crawling around on my knees trying to find it and giggling with the crowd. We aren't able to capture that exactly, but everything else is pretty much there! It was a musical party, and I hope people will enjoy. I am so grateful to Broadway Records and Van Dean for including me in their incredible series."

This is one of the better of the 54 Below albums for me. It’s a great mix of styles and songs, and Errico is in fine voice on all of them. 'Meadowlark' is by far the standout track for me, but I also loved the quality on 'Small World' and 'No More'. She is a lady who could sing anything, I think, and make it sound fresh and new. One wish would have been for a bigger band, I think, but then again I’d love to hear her live with just a piano.

The CD package is sumptuous as always, with a great design by the lovely Robbie Rozelle, who does so many great designs these days.

A worthy addition to anyone’s collection, and a great listen for the cold winter nights.


Ian Gude

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