Annie Ross

Gregg Culling
Danny's Skylight Room
August 2005

As soon as she begins to sing "Fun to Be Fooled" - with the accent on the "fun" - you know you're in for a night of pure magic and total excitement. Ms Annie Ross is simply astonishing in this extremely rare appearance in an intimate setting at Danny's Skylight Room, with Tardo Hammer on piano, Neal Miner on bass, Jimmy Wormworth on drums, and Warren Vaché on trumpet. What an excellent way to lift your spirits as the hot summer months finally come to an end, and a bright new fall season awaits us.

Looking positively stunning in a persimmon colored top covered by a similarly colored paisley cloak, which was eventually removed with great fanfare, and with her beautiful copper-colored coif and tasteful jewelry glistening in the light, Annie Ross proved she is the "real thing" as one singer in attendance commented. Surrounded by an overflowing roomful of some of her best friends (including Bucky Pizzarelli, Margaret Whiting, Soupy Sales, Daryl Sherman, John Wallowitch, and James Gavin), you felt you were amongst royalty and she was the grand dame!

The gal still swings like nobody's business on up tunes like "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive" (Arlen/Mercer) and then "Day In Day Out" (Bloom/Mercer) where she displays the pounding passion of the "possibility of seeing you." Later, she breaks your heart with stunning ballads like "Kiss Me Again" (Herbert/Blossom) teamed with "Indian Summer (Herbert/Dubin), but most especially on Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" that will totally slay you! You could have heard a pin drop as it sent chills through the room!

Ms. Ross obviously picks only those songs that touch her personally, or "tasty songs" as she calls them, and this program of standards reveals as much about her as a person as it does about her excellent taste in songs. And what a life she has lived: performing in vaudeville with her parents in her native Scotland at the age of three; coming to New York at the age of four to live with her famous singer aunt Ella Logan (from "Finian's Rainbow"); writing songs as a teenager that were immediately recorded by the likes of Dinah Shore, Jo Stafford & The Pied Pipers; appearing in movies with the Little Rascals at the age of 8, with Judy Garland in "Presenting Lily Mars" at the age of eleven, and performing with some of the finest musicians all over the world, and becoming part of the historic vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. More movies followed including "Yanks" with Richard Gere, "Throw Mama from the Train" with Billy Crystal, and especially Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" where she played a jazz singer grappling with her faded fame. Not to forget the recordings both solo, with superb orchestras and with the LH&R. So, when she sings "By Myself" (Schwartz/Dietz) it almost seems that it was written just for her, and you feel not just the loneliness, but also the strength behind this seemingly indestructible woman. At 75, we should all be as wise and as smart. She admits that she's drawn to dark ballads and with "Alone Together" (Schwartz/Dietz) she squeezes every ounce of emotion out of the lyric as Vaché accents it in a haunting reverie, and she acts the hell out it!! No Annie Ross show is complete, of course, without "Twisted," her famous tongue-twister of a song (music by Wardell Gray) that she wrote decades ago, and she doesn't disappoint. It's as insane and as fun as ever!

Much of this program is also fortunately captured on her brand new CD
"Let Me Sing" (recorded only three weeks ago at Nola Studios!) and
released on the CAP label. What a treat! It's available after the sh