The Record (Bergen County, NJ) - 2-8-93

By BILL ERVOLINO, Staff Writer


ROSEMARY CLOONEY: Performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., Tuesdays to Saturdays through Feb. 27 at Rainbow & Stars, 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Cover is $35. No minimum. 1-(212) 632-5000.

It's hard to imagine any singer -- male or female -- not learning a thing or two from Rosemary Clooney. They'd have to pay attention, though. She makes it look so easy, you tend not to notice all that technique wafting around the room.

But, hey: It's in there.

For her opening on Tuesday at Rainbow & Stars, where she appears until Feb. 27, Clooney offered a dozen or so standards, reminding us what made them standards in the first place.

Her voice, rich and smoky, embraces every lyric with a quiet intensity. Vernon Duke's "Autumn in New York" may be out of season, but it makes no difference. For Clooney, the song is a love letter written years ago, tied in ribbons and stored someplace special.

Singing the song again, she communicates all the feeling that went into it, rediscovering its warmth, its joy, and its longing.

"Autumn" is one of four songs in this show inspired by the city. The others -- "Manhattan," "Do You Miss New York," and, peripherally, "Guys and Dolls" -- are treated just as reverently.

Loesser's "Guys and Dolls" is particularly effective, smooth, and upbeat. And, again, Clooney makes the song her own, settling so comfortably into the tenor of the tune, you get the feeling she refers to all of her acquaintances as dolls and guys.

"Do You Miss New York?" -- the title song from her latest album on the Concord Jazz label -- is a more expansive work, and Clooney plumbs its emotion, inspiring her audience to share the experience.

In the past 10 years or so, Clooney has distinguished herself, both on records and in live performances, as a truly wonderful singer. This is partially because she trusts her material, but it is also, one senses, because she trusts herself. She never takes on a song she doesn't understand, and she never camouflages it with unnecessary flourishes.

The approach works like a charm. She makes every song look good, and the songs return the favor. All of this is particularly evident in Clooney's rendition of "Don't Fence Me In," a tune Cole Porter wrote for Roy Rogers. With its references to saddles and wide open spaces, it seems an odd choice for Clooney. But she manages to communicate the song's sentiment perfectly, simultaneously showing its charms.

The program could use a few more surprises -- there is a sameness to much of the other material -- but that may be quibbling. There are certainly no clinkers here, and it's hard to get bored when a singer of Clooney's caliber croons about the city she loves, with a magnificent view of the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. (Nestled on the 65th floor of the old RCA Building, Rainbow & Stars offers one of the most magnificent views in the city.)

There's certainly nothing to quibble about with Clooney's choice of musicians. John Oddo on piano is a delight, and Joe Cocuzzo's drum work is first rate. They're ably abetted by Scott Hamilton (tenor sax), David Finck (bass), Marvin Stamm (cornet), and Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar).

It's a pity Clooney won't be performing on Valentine's Day -- it falls on Sunday this year -- because this is a wonderfully romantic evening. But, if you don't need an excuse to feel all warm inside, don't hesitate to make a reservation.

Copyright © 1993 Bergen Record Corp. All rights reserved.