A mother-son combo might sound like a somewhat funny Valentine’s act, but veteran songstress Sandy Stewart and jazz pianist Bill Charlap are two expert performers with com-plementary musical sensibilities. Their current stint at the Al-gonquin brings a glowing warmth to the oak panels of that fabled room.
Stewart goes way back — she toured with Benny Goodman, was a frequent guest on the Perry Como and Ed Sullivan shows and memorably sang Kander & Ebb’s first hit “My Coloring Book.” Stewart turned pro in 1947, start-ing as a 10-year-old radio singer. That’s a lot of years, and her opening number — an impeccable rendition of “Why Did I Choose You?” from “The Yearling,” which instantly spreads a hush over the room — makes you won-der just how much stamina the singer has left.
Plenty, it turns out. She moves directly into a version of Cole Porter’s “All of You” bordering on the saucy, then a heartfelt interpre-tation of Rodgers & Hart’s “My Heart Stood Still.” This proves to be the pattern for the evening: slow and tender (and stunning) ballads, followed by charmers that bubble over.
High spots in the latter cate-gory include “That Face” and “I’ve Got the World on a String”; she silences the house with “I See Your Face Before Me” and “The Shadow of Your Smile.” Evening is capped by two more from Richard Rodgers, “Hello Young Lovers” (lending a title to the set) and — for seasonal greetings — “My Funny Valentine.”
Charlap, meanwhile, provides an always intriguing jazz accom-paniment, supportive of singer and melody but full of interesting colors and fascinating rhythms.
Stewart takes a breather mid-way, giving Charlap a 10-minute showcase in which he delivers a set of wonderful variations on Gershwin’s “‘S Wonderful,” a warmly evocative reading of Porter’s “You’d Be So Easy to Love” and a bravura rendition of Porter’s “All Through the Night” as if played by Gershwin warming up for his next concerto.