First Mondays with David Yazbek and His Lady Parts – Guest Artist: Norbert Leo Butz
By: Linda Amiel Burns
David Yazbek is an accomplished, musician, composer, and lyricist who wrote the score for the Broadway musicals The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
According to the 92YTribeca’s online press info, “ David is known for his thrilling live performances and irreverent style. This award-winning musical troublemaker takes the stage with his band the first Monday of each month at The Tribeca Y. Expect to see musical pyrotechnics, new material and special guests from the worlds of theater, music, comedy and beyond.”
Interesting that the evening didn’t fulfill the promise. “Musical pyrotechnics” or a “thrilling live performance” is a subjective evaluation. It took the show a while to get going due to the unstructured format as Yazbek played a few numbers that were not familiar or from any of his shows. He did have a special camaraderie with the talented five musicians in the band, making it obvious that he has played with them many times before.
Unlike the venue’s uptown partner, the 92 St Y, which is theater oriented and more structured and informative, this venue is more for jazz fans, a younger crowd. Yazbek did not feel compelled to set up his songs, talk about his choices, why he wrote them and how they came about. The only time that he came close to giving any information was when he introduced a song saying, “I have no idea what the next song is about.” This seemed fine with the downtown audience but offered little with which to connect.
Norbert Leo Butz
Yazbek brought on his special guest artist, two-time Tony Winner Norbert Leo Butz, who is a close friend and starred in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and recently closed in Dead Accounts on Broadway. Norbert performed two songs, reading the lyrics from the music stand, so I assumed that they were new songs. Then Yazbek invited another pianist, Marco, to the stage so that he could join Butz to sing a duet from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels called “Dirty Rotten Guys.” The two men talked briefly of some memories of the first rehearsal when they and some cast members were going through personal problems. It would have been nice to have more of that, as it was a good way of getting to know these men and was the highlight of the concert.
Since most of the songs were new and not familiar, it was difficult understanding the lyrics. Many of the songs had lyrics that repeated endlessly like “Jimmy went up, but he never came down” but what the composer was trying to get across was elusive. Seemingly Yazbek and the Band were improvising most of the material and since they were all master musicians, a lot of it worked.
The First Monday Series at 92Y Tribeca is not for everyone, but if you are a fan of David Yazbek and his work, you will enjoy the next concert on February 4 when Patti Lupone will be his guest artist.
First Mondays with David Yazbek and His Lady Parts - Guest Artist: Norbert Leo Butz (January 7, 2013)
92YTribeca, 200 Hudson Street at Canal, in Manhattan
For more information: call 212-601-1000 or visit http://www.92YTribeca.org
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