Life Is a Cabaret!


Every October Manhattan is usually bursting with song as the Mabel Mercer Foundation presents the annual Cabaret Convention. The artform specializing in live and intimate song interpretation certainly wasn’t created with “social distancing” in mind, but nobody’s gonna rain on this parade. For the first time ever, audiences around the world can enjoy a virtual version of the event jam packed with star power. You can register to attend one of many sessions at the link below. In the meantime, here are TMTP’s selections for must-listen cabaret albums. 

Bobby Short

“Part of my love for this album comes from the fact that I was there — and had no idea it was being recorded in 1975! But mostly, as I’ve listened to and lived with the album through the decades, I am awed by the excellence and style of the King of Cabaret in songs ranging from Ellington and Strayhorn to Sondheim. Being right there for a Short performance (especially at his home, the Carlyle Hotel) was tantamount to a kind of religious experience. As much as I admire many contemporary cabaret artists, there’s still no one else who can touch him.”
​- Bill Rudman

“While I’ve only listened to a few cabaret albums, my appreciation for Sara Zahn’s Both Sides of Bernstein on TMTP’s Harbinger Records label tells me I should listen to all of my colleagues’ recommendations on this list! The journey her show invites the audience to take is subtle and powerful. Her artistry and rapport with the audience is crystal clear. I was blown away by her juxtaposition of Bernstein’s “So Pretty” (protesting the Vietnam War) and “Take Care of This House” (From 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). Sensational.”
– Heather Meeker

Liza Minnelli

“What more can you say about Liza Minnelli! Growing up, she was one of my favorites to sing along with. Not many people can belt out a song like she can. My favorite selections on this album are the songs in the New York Medley. The finale of this medley is my personal favorite – “Theme from New York, New York”. I used to sing with her on this song for a better part of my childhood while dreaming of seeing the big lights of Broadway. There is just something magical about the energy in her voice and you can hear it in each one of her songs.”
​- Heidi Lang

“This is a fabulous album. Benanti’s voice is glorious in its own right, but her humor really shines in this live performance. Her stories and interactions with the audience are laugh out loud funny with moments of sincerity and true class. She creates a listening experience that makes you feel like you’re there in person, which is not easy to accomplish. Plus her song selection is so eclectic with standards from the Great American Songbook, contemporary Broadway and even a tribute to her ‘favorite folk pop rock soprano,’ Joni Mitchell.”
​-Joanna May Cullinan

Laura Benati
Mandy Patinkin

“One of my favorite actors and singers is Mandy Patinkin. I remember playing his self-titled album on a near endless loop as I soaked in his tender interpretation of classics such as “Over the Rainbow” and “I’ll Be Seeing You” while marveling at his vocal gymnastics and over the top interpretations of both familiar – “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” – and novel – “Coffee In A Cardboard Cup” – tunes. In addition to Bernadette, I believe that his interpretation of Sondheim is true genius. His covers of “Anyone Can Whistle” and “No One is Alone” do not disappoint.”
– Jodi Maile Kirk

“I love both Barbara Cook and the music of Stephen Sondheim, so this live recording of her Carnegie Hall cabaret-style concert is a real winner for me! It features classic Sondheim, plus some songs Sondheim wishes he had written (some of those by Harold Arlen and Irving Berlin). No one can deliver a ballad quite the way she can – a classic artist and a class act. From the time she was young, I have admired how she used her pure soprano in service of the lyric. And her version of Hugh Martin’s “The Trolley Song” is irresistible!”
-Nancy Maier

Barbara Cook