(Crazy Coqs Cabaret Room at Brasserie Zedel. 19th November 2012. Review by Sebastian Scotney)
Any plans for Thanksgiving this Thursday? This week's show at the Crazy Coqs cabaret room in Brasserie Zedel by Piccadilly Circus is a piece of genuine Americana. (On that subject by the way, master-novelist Richard Ford makes a rare London appearance next Wednesday here at Kings Place).
Steve March-Tormé, son of Mel Tormé, a regular in the Met Room in New York, is in residence for the week. In the show you get his full life story, starting in Scarsdale, up in those idyllic privileged wooded suburbs North of New York, then among the stars and the wannabes in Beverley Hills, and most recently in Appleton, Wisconsin (you get a song about taking children to the park). The cultural references are almost all American, it needs a few more Americans in this great little room than were there last night to make it buzz, which it can, and probably will.
The show has an awful lot of referencing of Mel Tormé and his life in music, and a few of his arrangements. Fine bassist Dave Olney was often dealing with five or more pages of manuscript.
There's one confusion which definitely needs clearing up: two of the five children of the Velvet Fog from his four marriages, in fact both of the sons, ply their trade as singers. Steve is Mel's eldest son and eldest child, from his first marriage. The other, James (born 1973), is the youngest, from his third marriage. There'll be a test later.
I thought there was one genuinely great moment last night, a deliciously long-phrased Kern/ Hammerstein The Folks Who Live on the Hill with just pianist Steve Rawlins accompanying, Tormé showing off perfect legato and sostenuto. He's a genial host, and on Monday night he was by some margin the neatest-dressed person in the room.
The Crazy Coqs room, soft-launched earlier in the year is really taking shape. It has a brand new sound and lighting rig, for example. It's a 66-seater room right in the heart of the West End - with a great French brasserie and a comfy bar attached.
And without wanting to spoil anything... you will get into the Thanksgiving/ early Christmas mood with a song Mel Torme happened to co-write .. about stuff like chestnuts ....and an open fire.... and see his son looking up, still boyishly, and without irony, "to see if reindeer really know how to fly"