JVC Festival Offers Night of Stinging Songs
For all of Dorough's bouyant charm and cleverness, a welcome stage levening for the show, the evening really belonged to Frishberg, as much for his keen sense of subject matter in the hitherto unsung frustrations and hypocrisies of our civilization as for his verbal deftness and musical poignancy. Between them they offered four song-tributes to jazz musicians: "Sidney Bechet," "Lady Day," "Zoot [Sims] Walked in," and "Dear Bix [Beiderbecke]," each one going beyond mere worship, humanizing the subject and even the singer. But Frishberg topped them all with the completely unexpected "(I Wanna Be a) Sideman," an rhymed compendium of the commonplaces of the jazz musician's life that had the very jazz-wise audience on the floor. He also played a very appealing instrumental medley of Harold Arlen tunes, that included the seldom heard (and unannounced) "Last Night When We Were Young."
And when he opened it up to requests at the end, was it really a device to include his signature "My Attorney Bernie"? In his final touch of irony, Frishberg introduced the song saying that although it has been considered the best song about lawyers, he had always thought it was really about clients ("And when I'm locked up in a jail/with one phone call for my bail/He says to call his club collect or deal directly with/His answering machine.") He had completely altered the musical setting, freshening it up considerably (since he's so tired of playing it, he later confessed), and it did its job. They should have ended there, but instead they added the rather lame but well-known Dorough children's piece "Conjunction Junction," as a sing-along. The audience, thoroughly sated after 25 tunes in two-and-a-half hours, stood, and did not ask for an encore, but no one left disappointed.
Joel Simpson is the producer of DICK HYMAN'S CENTURY OF JAZZ PIANO CD-ROM (103 tunes/60+styles, videos, MIDI Studio, great graphics, extensive bios etc.). An interactive demo can be found on his WEBSITE: www.jssmusic.com. To order via phone call: 800 557-7894.