A delightful summer treat, “Songbook Summit” features those likable, super-talented musician twin brothers, Peter and Will Anderson, abetted by singer Molly Ryan, in a series of programs celebrating the Great American Songbook. I chose to attend the Cole Porter show (August 2-6), and it turned out to be a scintillating performance.
Other composers saluted in the series are Harold Arlen (August 8-13), George Gershwin (August 15-20) and Richard Rodgers (August 22-27).
The work of Cole Porter is extremely rich, as evidenced not only in the selection of his numbers played and sung, but in entertaining films clips showing how his songs were used in movies, and surprisingly, how they were also used in advertising. Anecdotes about him and his life were told as part of the show’s narration, stories that provided added perspective rooted to the high society life he lived the world-over, his bisexuality and the pain he had to endure after an injury.
But the main event was the captivating Porter music, for which he wrote his extremely witty lyrics. The Andersons are skillfully versatile with various instruments. Peter plays tenor sax, soprano sax and clarinet. Will plays alto sax, clarinet and flute. They are supported with piano, bass and percussion.
Molly Ryan, who is expert at interpretation and clarity and has an appealing voice, appeared at points in the program singing “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “It’s De-lovely, “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and ”From This Moment On.”
The show was created and produced by the Andersons, who demonstrated their extremely creative arrangements and riffs in also playing such Porter numbers as “Begin the Beguine,” “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” “In the Still of the Night” and “Night and Day.” Their musicianship is remarkable, abetted by their chatty style, and one can thoroughly enjoy being in their company. At 59E59 Theaters, 59East 59th Street. Phone: 212-279-4200. Reviewed August 4, 2017.