It’s the holiday season, and once again Steve Tyrell is back at the Café Carlyle from November 9 until ringing in the year 2011 on December 31. His popularity—this is his 6th consecutive holiday stint at the elite supper club in the Carlyle Hotel—speaks for itself. On opening night of the new run Tyrell exhibited the kind of singing that is his trademark—direct, swinging interpretations of favorites from the American Songbook, some of which he has given fresh life along the way during his career.
With a background highlighted by record-producing as well as performing, Tyrell always is in a position to provide a few anecdotes, and opening night was no exception. But there was a new twist. He announced his liaison with a woman who, as he put it, “has saved my life,” and without naming her, asked her to stand. He then said there were plans for them to be married at the Carlyle after his booking. He even sang one of his numbers to her.
Very romantic. And very fitting, with the title of his current show being “I’ll Take Romance.” As is customary for him, Tyrell is backed by an excellent contingent of musicians. The six performing with him at the Carlyle are Quinn Johnson, piano; David Finck, bass; Bob Mann, guitar; David Mann, flute and sax; Kevin Winard, drums, and Jon Allen, keyboards.
Tyrell is in the tradition of the Sinatra mold (not to make judgmental comparisons), singing with engaging directness and providing his own interpretations. He has an easy-going manner (down-home Texan), and he connects in a way that audiences who enjoy his brand of performing can warm to. Some women in the room were swaying along with the music, giving high fives to each other and applauding enthusiastically, sometimes in mid-song.
You can get an idea of where he is coming from by his repertoire. Introducing “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” he called it “one of my favorite Fats Waller songs.” He poured his heart and soul into ”Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” one of his stronger entries. He applied a bossa nova beat to Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You.”
Among others: “I’ll Take Romance” (naturally), “It All Depends on You,” ”I’ve Got the World on a String,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Talk to Me” “Just in Time,” “Isn’t It Romantic?” “This Guy’s In Love” and “Night and Day.”
Had he been around in those days, Tyrell could have fit right into the big band era. He looks totally smooth as he integrates with his musical group. His voice sounded a bit raspy st times on opening night, but his personable flair was in evidence with every song that he interpreted in what was unmistakably Tryell-style and firmly in the mode that has won him his long-time following. At the Café Caryle, Madison Avenue at 76th Street. Phone: 212-744-1600.