My friends and musical heroes, Yaala Ballin and Michael Kanan, returned to Mezzrow on December 11, 2019, for another evening of glorious songs, selected by the audience, as Yaala explains in the second video. They call this “show of surprises” “The Great American Songbook, Requested,” and it is a consistent offering of joys.
But first, the Gershwins’ LOVE WALKED IN:
and for those new to Yaala and Michael’s playful plan-and-not-plan for their evening, Yaala explains it all while Michael quietly explores I’VE GOT THE WORLD ON A STRING:
THE MAN I LOVE has been performed so often that when someone launches into it I feel a little world-weary, “Oh, not that again.” But I find this version completely compelling and emotionally plausible. It is their teamwork, Michael’s palette of colors and textures, Yaala’s playful but deep speech-cadences. Their performance has emotional ardor but is never “dramatic” for the sake of drama:
On with the dance, the dance of affection shared– Berlin’s CHEEK TO CHEEK, so beautifully begun and continued. But first, Yaala tells a tale:
STAIRWAY TO THE STARS, Matty Malneck and Frank Signorelli, full of hope. Please savor Michael’s solo chorus, his light and shadows:
The Gershwins’ OUR LOVE IS HERE TO STAY:
and Ellington’s I LET A SONG GO OUT OF MY HEART:
This is only the first part of a completely satisfying evening — with fourteen more songs delicately and ardently reinvented for us. If you missed this December tasting menu, don’t despair: Yaala and Michael will be performing again for Valentine’s Day at St. John’s in the Village on Eleventh Street: details to come.
May your happiness increase!