Fans of the big band sound can find it at the Carlyle, for an extended engagement from Halloween through New Year’s Eve. Steve Tyrell, backed by eight musicians and two singers, fills the recently renovated Madison Avenue nitery with an hour’s worth of swinging music; not exactly “Bacharach and Beyond” as credited, but more properly Bacharach and before.
Tyrell is a fine example of the band singer, circa today. He’s neither Tony Bennett nor Harry Connick Jr. But he’s a good singer, and he knows the music. After 30 or so years in the business — he was director of promotions at Scepter Records, back in the days when Bacharach & David were turning out hit after hit — he turned to performing, breaking through with his crooning in the “Father of the Bride” movies.
Program is split between Bacharach & David (“The Look of Love,” “Walk on By,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”) and a clutch of older favorites (“It Had to Be You,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Give Me the Simple Life”).
This is a fine collection; Tyrell knows songs and how to pick them. The patrons at the opening set knew them too; people at every other table were singing along, silently (and politely) mouthing the words. The singer was relaxed and cool in his black velvet jacket; at one point flirting so veraciously with a willowy miss he almost fell off the stage. The arrangements — uncredited here, except for the Quincy Jones/Sinatra chart version of “Fly Me to the Moon” — are mostly solid.
Tyrell’s two-month engagement comes at a stiff tariff ($130 plus dinner). But simply put, there aren’t many places in Manhattan where you’ll find such a large musical sound in such a small room, with roughly one performer per eight seats.
As a bonus, opening nighters were treated to Patti Austin joining Tyrell for “Say a Little Prayer for Me.” Credit should be shared with Tyrell’s fine band, led by Quinn Johnson on piano. Flavorful solos abound, including several from Lyman Medieros on bass, Lew Soloff on trumpet and Lou Marini on sax and flute.