A decade ago, I became an intermittent denizen of the Upper West Side of Manhattan for the best reasons. Although that period of my life has ended, for all things change and shift, I remember those days and nights with fondness.
One of the pleasures for an even more brief period was hearing music at Roth’s Steakhouse on Columbus Avenue in the Nineties. It closed sometime after 2010, so I can now say that the food was indifferent. But the music was sublime. Here is a tender musical souvenir of days gone by — but not days beyond recall. It is a leisurely yet rhythmic exploration of Irving Berlin’s ballad from ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, a sentiment few would deny, THEY SAY IT’S WONDERFUL — performed by two musical romantics who also like their romance to move along at the right tempo, Jon-Erik Kellso and Ehud Asherie, brass and piano, respectively.
In his very admiring chapter on Mr. Berlin in AMERICAN POPULAR SONG, Alec Wilder says nothing about THEY SAY IT’S WONDERFUL, but I will fill in for him for one sentence. Originally, the music for ANNIE GET YOUR GUN was to be composed by Jerome Kern, who died suddenly before he could create the score; I hear faint tracings of Kern in Berlin’s arching melody line, especially evident if one plays or sings the song as a very slow ballad.
Here, Jon-Erik and Ehud create their own world in praise of love not yet realized or never forgotten:
I’ve left the end of the video intact — with the waitperson pushing the specials on hopeful diners — to add to the Rothian ambiance. Another place where one could dine on extraordinary music, gone, but the sounds remain.
May your happiness increase!