The program showcased both sides of Newman’s career: plenty of his pop hits — the inevitable “Short People” and “I Love L.A.” among them — along with instrumental music and songs from his Oscar-nominated scores for the films “Avalon,””Ragtime,””The Natural” and “Toy Story.” And, bringing him more or less up to date, he sang a few numbers from his theatrical work in progress (currently on its way to Chicago in a revised edition), “Faust.”
Highlights, aside from the elegant film music, included some of the material he doesn’t usually do, including “Cowboy” (written for but not used in “Midnight Cowboy”), “I Love to See You Smile” (from “Parenthood,” and subsequently an advertising jingle), and the theatrical “Davy the Fat Boy” (in which the singer, given custody of the titular tot, turns him into a carnival attraction, all to a faux Kurt Weill arrangement).
The setting, and a group of musicians he’s worked with on his own records and scores, gave Newman a chance to lavish praise on his musicians, identifying soloists from number to number; credit the late Tommy LiPuma for his arrangement of “Marie”; and note the passing Friday of fellow film composer Miles Goodman.
He also cracked wise about the Bowl’s environment, venturing that, for once, critics would praise the noisy local air traffic (“Thankfully, a helicopter flew over, so we couldn’t hear what … he was saying”), and described “Toy Story” from his viewpoint as a composer: “It opens with a song, then there’s a lot of talking over the music, then there’s another song …”
Perhaps it was a lack of rehearsal time that kept Newman from making even further use of the terrific-sounding Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. He shared conducting with Mitchell Hanlon, principal conductor John Mauceri’s longtime assistant, making his own Bowl debut.