Café Carlyle favorite Steve Tyrell is back again with a show dubbed “I’ll Take Romance” (May 15-26, 2012), a title he has used before. Wouldn’t you know, it just happens to be the title of his new recording, including, of course, that title song. Tyrell, his out-going personality in full gear, makes the show seem like one informal party, enlivened with a six-piece band using arrangements that perfectly suit Tyrell’s style.
Call that style the Tyrell bounce. His renditions bounce with rhythmic beats as he punches out lyrics in his particular phrasing. He has the knack of being super-friendly as he peppers his performance with anecdotes and references that reflect his long, successful run as a performer and music businessman who has hobnobbed with the notables that leave him with a raft of stories to spin. Affable is the word for Steve.
One background note he provides on this occasion comes in an introduction to “You Must Be Crazy,” by Sammy Cahn and Artie Butler. Tyrell informs us that this is the last song Cahn wrote, heretofore unrecorded. He launches into it with zest and pride, and the number is a good one indeed, especially as delivered.
Tyrell showcases the talent of his musicians. Singing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” he pauses to let phenomenal trumpet player Lew Soloff soar with a powerful solo, a feat repeated by Soloff a few times during the program. The music contingent also includes Quinn Johnson, pianist and musical director; Bob Mann, guitar; Kevin Winard, drums; David Finck, bass, and Jon Allen, keyboards and percussion.
Tyrell’s generous program includes many standards that he sings as if they were old companions, such as “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “All of You,” “Talk To Me,” ”Isn’t It Romantic?” and a passionately showy “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” His stories add color, as with the anecdote about Frank Sinatra at the start of his career trying to sing a Cole Porter number at a New Jersey nightspot called The Rustic Cabin when Porter was in the audience. Sinatra couldn’t get past the first line. Later, after Sinatra had achieved fame, Porter remembered the night and teased him, saying it was the worst performance of the song he had ever heard.
There was a gag which I’d heard Tyrell use before, but it is still pertinent. With “Talk To Me,” Tyrell observes that today it would be more like, “Email me—send me a tweet, baby.”
What has stood him in good stead for so many years is Tyrell’s ability to engage with his audience as he sings mostly familiar numbers in his easy-going style that invites patrons to join him in having a good time. It’s all part of that Tyrell bounce. At the Café Carlyle, Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street (At Madison Avenue). Phone: 212-744-1600.