Doing an evening of all iconic songs by iconic songwriters presents a number of risks, as Anne Kerry Ford, herself, admitted early in her show. Chief among them is the tendency of the audience to compare the performance to the well-known version(s) of the songs. Anne handled that dilemma by shifting the attention from the familiar to the beauty and significance of the lyrics. Most of the songs were slowed down from their normal pace to a tempo that enabled her to create images from words and phrases. There was no better example than "Waters of March," usually taken at break-neck speed but slowed to the point that the poetic nature of the flowing words could be properly appreciated. As in her introduction to most of the songs, the patter was original and informative. Explaining the origin of the title and the fact that Jobim insisted on writing the English lyrics placed the song in just the right context.

Anne has a gorgeous voice and she has absolute control over it, down to an inflection perfectly suited to reflect the vocal styling of the era in which most of the songs were created. Her use of a conversational tone in the verse of "The Man I Love" effectively put the focus on the emotion and meaning of the lyrics, which is rare with such a well-known standard. Musical director John Boswell did a brilliant arrangement of that song. Anne's romantic, sweet vocal line was off-set by John's ragtime accompaniment and the combination was magical.

Knowing that the audience could probably sing-along on most of the numbers, she offered up "Oh What a Beautiful Morning"as the one and only opportunity to sing along. Since the room was packed with singers, the result was a choral-like version that created a warm glow, which grew as the evening progressed by the combination of the richness of the material and the creativity of the singer and musical director.

Les Traub
Cabaret Scenes
April 4, 2009