Featured Artist: Jim Van Slyke at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency
As Part Two of the Great American Songbook gathers some more contemporary standards, Neil Sedaka stands among this era’s top songwriters. Classically trained, Sedaka has been a pop favorite since the rock ‘n’ roll ’50’s and he is still a busy songwriter and singer. Who doesn’t begin to smile with the opening notes of “Where The Boys Are” and “Love Will Keep Us Together”? Come on, who doesn’t know, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”? However, there is a lot more to the Sedaka songbook.
Jim Van Slyke has scored with this tribute show that just won’t go away. In the past year, The Sedaka Show has played at the Laurie Beechman Theater, various cities around the country, and a previous stop at Feinstein’s. In April, Van Slyke returns to Feinstein’s every Monday night, and proves again why this is the little show that must be seen. A fine performer, Van Slyke presents a sincere tribute to Sedaka’s achievements. He has studied the canon and understands the songs’ intent. Van Slyke has long been admired for his confident supple tenor but here he shines with the ability to delve beneath the surface and interpret a song his own way.
What is surprising is Sedaka’s breadth of music. Van Slyke does not have to deliver much patter. Wisely he just indicates the direction of Sedaka’s different forms of music and lets the songs unfold, proving there is a lot more than the teen angst of “Oh, Carol.” Inspired by Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma,” Sedaka added English lyrics, “Turning Back the Hands of Time.” and remembering John Lennon’s difficulty getting U.S. citizenship, he wrote, “The Immigrant.” Van Slyke reminds us of a deeper, more romantic side to Sedaka with “Solitaire” and “The Hungry Years” lovely, emotional songs that deserve recognition by a warm, emotionally committed artist.
Singer/actor Brian Lane Green has co-created and directed a show with an easy, well-constructed flow. Music Director Tim Di Pasqua’s arrangements are standouts, lending Van Slyke a lush, complex piano backup sound and the show a rich satisfaction.
When Sedaka once said, “I had the great pleasure of seeing Jim Van Slyke perform a revue of my songs. It blew me away! The voice, the stage presence, the thought and preparation that went into the cabaret were all superb.” You will agree.