Betty Buckley’s second visit to the Blue Note is infinitely superior to her first in May 2006, when she seemed under-rehearsed and uncomfortable. Now, she has everything well in hand. The singing is fine as always, the patter is relaxed, and Buckley is clearly in control.
The set of 16 songs, mostly from the pop world, is particularly well chosen. She opens with a high-energy “Hello, Young Lovers” and delivers an especially effective “It Might as Well Be Spring.”
Her longtime arranger-pianist Kenny Werner does some interesting rhythmic alterations on “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'” and “Many a New Day,” extending cadences and the like. High spots include the Legrand-Bergman “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”; Abbey Lincoln’s “Throw It Away”; and Brenda Russell’s “Get Here,” the one song repeated from last May. Werner has featured solos throughout.
Buckley said she celebrated a major birthday on July 3, coyly omitting the number 60. Sixty or 40 (when she starred in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”) or 20 (when she charmed audiences as Martha Jefferson in “1776”), Buckley has a powerhouse voice and the ability to use it.