Review: ‘Rosemary Clooney: Dedicated to Nelson’

The arrangements, long considered lost, were penned by Riddle for Clooney's 1956-57 TV series, although any written documents have long since disappeared. The singer's longtime musical director, John Oddo, recently transcribed the arrangements from audiotapes of the shows and re-created them for Clooney's new CD, "Dedicated to Nelson."

The arrangements, long considered lost, were penned by Riddle for Clooney’s 1956-57 TV series, although any written documents have long since disappeared. The singer’s longtime musical director, John Oddo, recently transcribed the arrangements from audiotapes of the shows and re-created them for Clooney’s new CD, “Dedicated to Nelson.”

TX:A Rainbow & Stars presentation of a concert by Rosemary Clooney. The arrangements fall short of the intricate masterpieces Riddle delivered for Frank Sinatra’s classic albums; by any other standard, they’re a delight.

Clooney is perfectly at ease returning to the big band sound after years of performing with smaller jazz combos. Her warm, rich voice, even when reaching for the high notes that almost elude it, can work wonders even on a throw-away novelty number like “You’re in Kentucky.” For this show, her relaxed, funny banter with the audience focuses largely on reminiscences of Riddle.

The show’s highlights, not surprisingly, are the songs that have stood the test of four decades: “A Foggy Day,””Do you Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans,””I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good.” In a tribute to Marlene Dietrich, Clooney does a surprisingly tender “Falling in Love Again,” rescuing the tune from Dietrich’s later kitschy treatments.

Several newer tunes, arranged by Oddo in Riddle fashion, include Dave Frishberg’s standout “Do You Miss New York?” and “When October Goes,” with lyrics by Johnny Mercer set to music by none other than Barry Manilow. The song holds its own.

Clooney’s backup band is as swingin’ as anyone could hope, with Jim Hynes, Glenn Drewes and George Rabbai handling the trademark Riddle trumpet breaks without a hitch. Clooney might have a hard time topping this year’s Gotham visit.

Rosemary Clooney: Dedicated to Nelson

Production

Rosemary Clooney: Dedicated to Nelson (Rainbows & Stars, New York; 100 seats; $ 40 cover)

Crew

Musical director, John Oddo; lighting, Tim Flannery; sound, Ed Richardson. Opened Feb. 6, 1996; reviewed Feb. 7; runs through March 2. Running time: 1 hour. Rosemary Clooney, annual February visitor to New York's Rainbow & Stars and the cabaret room's top draw, hits town this year with a fine trick up her sleeve: a lineup of Nelson Riddle arrangements not heard in nearly 40 years. Backed by a 14-piece big band, Clooney makes the wait worthwhile.
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