There’s a hot act in the making, judging by the initial teaming of Broadway star Cady Huffman and sax wizard Mike Hashim, who melded their skills in a one-night stand (August 2, 2010) at the jazz emporium Birdland. Huffman’s stage sex appeal is well known as a result of her triumph as Ullla, the Swedish temptress in “The Producers.” At Birdland, she again turned on the sexual heat, but that was only part of her allure. She projected an easy-going personality as she experimented with a variety of numbers in cooperation with Hashim in a program dubbed “The Tree of Life.”
The leader’s musical group consisted of expertise by Willard Dyson on drums, Kelly Friesen on bass and Ed MacCeachen on guitar, Each got a chance to solo impressively, including Hashim, who also kept the ball rolling with amusing patter.
Without a pianist, he and Huffman joked about putting the piano on stage to the best use a piano could have. It was with Huffman hoisting herself atop it and going through a bevy of sexual movements as she poured her all into “Some of These Days.” Sophie Tucker never looked like that. Lest anyone get the idea it was all physical, Huffman did justice to the song itself, investing it with unusual sensuality. She also turned on the sexual charm with “It all Depends on You.”
But Huffman was after more. She opened with a brassy “The Best is Yet to Come” but got more melodic with “Can’t We Be Friends,” then injected some fun with “The Sunny Side of the Street.”
I particularly liked her finale, “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries,” invested with the sort of passion one doesn’t usually find in that number, which Huffman brought to a rousing crescendo.
Did I say yet that she is also great looking?
The instrumental side of the gig made its own impact. Hashim and company played his own composition, a moody “Stay Away.” And where do you hear a number like “Rasputin Also Got the Blues”?
Seeing and hearing Huffman in this context whets the appetite for monitoring where she further takes her instinct for cabaret in addition to her already well proven stage skills. Reviewed at Birdland, 315 West 44th Street. Phone: 212-581-3080.