Singers Salute Songwriters-at Length

DON HECKMAN. The Los Angeles Times, Apr 22, 1993

The eighth annual Singers' Salute to the Songwriter program at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Tuesday was a l-o-n-g, l-o-n-g tribute to Irving Berlin, Leslie Bricusse, Edward Eliscu and Neil Sedaka.

Although more extensively produced than last year's concert, the four-hour salute-including two full-fledged dance numbers featuring Suzanne Somers and the effervescent Mitzi Gaynor-still had a flabby feeling, especially during the second act's overly extended collections of Sedaka and Bricusse songs.

There were, nonetheless, plenty of highlights in the program, which was a benefit for the Betty Clooney Foundation for Persons With Brain Injury. The familiar names ranged from Michael Feinstein, who was typically whimsical, to Maureen McGovern, who once again defined excellence in pop.

But some lesser-known artists also impressed. Their contributions included Marilynn Lovell's sweetly pure reading of Berlin's "Of Thee I Sing" and the Billy Porter and Arnold McCuller interpretations of Sedaka material.

Jimmy Scott plumbed the emotional currents of "How Deep Is the Ocean," the L.A. Jazz Choir was swinging and perky, and the Gay Men's Chorus was solid and professional.

Cameos by Bob and Dolores Hope added elegance and style to the evening, which was hosted by Rosemary Clooney and Nick Clooney. Peter Matz was music director, while John Oddo and Ian Fraser conducted.

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