While the Great American Songbook has turned out to be the last refuge for far too many aging rockers, it’s only ended up providing a comfort zone for a few — none of whom have made themselves more at home than Boz Scaggs.
For most of his career, the Texas-born, Bay Area-based singer has exuded a preternatural suaveness — at his commercial peak, he all but defined the notion that one didn’t have to work up a sweat to be cool — so it was no surprise to see him slip readily into crooner mode at his Gotham jazz club debut.
Scaggs picked a passel of tunes — some familiar (but not threadbare) and some relatively unappreciated — that were well-suited to his tranquil baritone. He massaged each lovingly, reaching the bittersweet core of the Rodgers and Hart standard “She Was Too Good to Me” and waxing winningly winsome on “This Time, the Dream’s on Me.”
Those tunes, like much of the program, were drawn from the singer’s recently released Decca disc, “Speak Low,” but there were nods to bygone days as well. While not radically reworked, Scaggs’ takes on tracks from his own catalog — like “Harbor Lights,” which interpolated a Gallic-flavored accordion solo by Gil Goldstein — were nicely burnished in their airings here.
Scaggs was ably abetted by the tasteful reedmen Bob Sheppard and Paul McCandless, each of whom moved fluidly between instruments, most notably on a subtly abstracted version of “Save Your Love for Me.” Thanks to their collective light touch — as well as the singer’s own easy mien — a vibrant buoyancy permeated just about every groove of a breezy set that positively flew by.