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Double Take - Elizabeth Ahlfors

Double Take

Jim Caruso's Broadway at Birdland Presents:
 Double Take
Sally Mayes and Jeff Harnar: At the Same Time
Musical Director: Alex Rybeck
Bass: Bob Renino  Drums: Dan Gross
Arrangements by Alex Rybeck (except where noted)
November 9, 2015
Review by Elizabeth Ahlfors

No second thoughts needed for  Double Take. Without too much double talk, Jeff Harnar and Sally
Mayes are a made-to-order duo, bringing a night of saucy teasing and fancy-free vocals to Birdland.  Harnar is a smooth baritone with ever-surprising variety, a crooner with soul.  Mayes, a kewpie doll double dose of homespun fun and heart-on-her-sleeve sentiment, paired up with Harnar to deliver some groovy tunes and expressive standards. Their deliveries looked back to the days of creativity seen at many early cabaret clubs like Upstairs at the Downstairs.

They opened with a breezy, teasing original tune, "Double Take," and then gave a nod to Doris Day's jaunty, "Any
Way the Wind Blows" from the film,  Please Don't Eat the Daisies.  The feel of the '60's wafted through Lanny Meyers' arrangement of Paul Simon's, "Feelin' Groovy" and "At the Zoo,"  a smooth feel of a summer day at the park with a whiff of something intriguing in the air.  Mayes added a Judy Holiday kookiness to "Just in Time" and their blast of "That's All" was a samba finale.  A touching offer of optimism came with Ann Hampton Callaway's, "At the Same Time," urging we give peace and understanding a try.

If you dig a "Metropolitan Scat" you'd better have your opera bel canto in sync with your improvisational scat.  Sally Mayes
has all that and enough comedy flair to pull it off.  Yet, her heart on her sleeve, Mayes was pure vulnerability with "Too Long at the Fair."  Harnar's solo moment to shine came with remarkable phrasing and skillful stress on lyrics with "Come Back to Me."  Besides that dreamy voice, he again proved to be a master of interpretation.

One of several high spots was a harmonic pairing.  With a leasurely swing, Mayes began, "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" before Harnar came in with "Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night (In the Week)." This was silky harmonic arrangement by pianist Alex Rybeck with Mayes and Becki Menzie.  Rybeck accompanied the show with Dan Gross on drums and Bob Renino on double bass.  Renino, married to Mayes, got a song written just for him by his wife, Mayes lending a country poignancy to "Somebody Sent Me an Angel." 

Pianist/songwriter/arranger Alex Rybeck accompanied the show with Dan Gross on drums and Bob Renino on double bass.  Renino, married to Mayes, had a song she had written for him, "Somebody Sent Me an Angel," embued with Mayes' country poignancy.

No double talk needed to urge Jeff Harnar and Sally Mayes for another show, on the double!