Singer Abigail Riccards and pianist Michael Kanan are a special pair. Their gently fresh approach to great songs is revelatory: they proceed wisely and tenderly. I find myself thinking, “Have I ever truly heard that song before? I know STARDUST, but have I ever heard it so completely realized?” They enhance rather than distort; they embody Ezra Pound’s artistic manifesto for Modernism — MAKE IT NEW — without dishonoring the original intent of the music or words.
What Abigail and Michael create springs from gracious courage: the sweet bravery of souls leaping into the unknown and enacting beauty for us. Magic without tricks. Although Abigail sounds as if she is just offering the words and notes, as casual as a note left on the refrigerator door, she is a cunning subtle actress, whose speaking delivery carries great feeling and meaning in every phrase. Michael Kanan lights our path in every way: the most gracious of men, at the keyboard and otherwise.
I was fortunate enough to witness their tender shape-changing on October 6 at Michael’s new studio, The Drawing Room, 56 Willoughby Street in Brooklyn. Here is the first set. One marvel unfolds after another.
As an aside — ordinarily I edit out some of the conversation between songs. In this case, since Abigail is devilishly witty — a splendid improvising comedienne, too — I have left everything as my camera recorded it.
I’VE GOT THE WORLD ON A STRING:
WHERE OR WHEN:
THE MORE I SEE YOU:
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN:
WHAT’LL I DO?
IN LOVE IN VAIN:
GUESS I’LL HANG MY TEARS OUT TO DRY:
LUCKY TO BE ME:
We are the lucky ones, because we live where such beauty flourishes.
May your happiness increase!