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January 17, 2017:

Riddle, Ronstadt & Robyn Spangler reviewed by Rob Stevens


In 1983 Linda Ronstadt, then considered the leading female vocalist in rock music, teamed up with Nelson Riddle, an arranger, composer, bandleader and orchestrator who had worked with many of the greats from Nat King Cole to Peggy Lee and most especially Frank Sinatra. Starting with the album What’s New, the two artists created a trio of albums of jazz pop standards from the Great American Songbook. Along with Lush Life and For Sentimental Reasons, their sales totaled over seven million copies and won several Grammy Awards. They revived Riddle’s career and introduced Ronstadt to a whole new audience while introducing her rock fans to a revered style of music. These and many other tidbits of info were parsed out during Riddle, Ronstadt & Robyn Spangler at Rockwell Table & Stage on Monday, January 16. Spangler had performed Why I Love Linda Ronstadt before creating this second Ronstadt tribute show. Spangler was in fine voice on such classic tunes as “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” “What’ll I Do?” and the albums three title songs. She mixed uptempo numbers such as “Straighten Up and Fly Right” with jazzy blues tinged songs like “Skylark.” She gave a jazzy rendition to “Falling in Love Again,” usually heard in the slower paced Marlene Dietrich style. A special highlight was her soulful “Lover Man.” While offstage for a costume change, itself a rarity in a cabaret act, Don Most (yes Happy Days Ralph Malph) kept the audience in the mood by channeling his inner crooner with Sinatra style renditions of classic showtunes “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Almost Like Being in Love.” He later joined Spangler for a lively “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” Spangler ended the evening with a lovely take on the Ronstadt classic, “Desperado,” that Riddle had arranged for Rondstadt’s concerts but that she never recorded. Riddle’s arrangements gave the songs that big band feel and Spangler easily essayed the classic days of the big band singer during the show. Spangler’s band may not have been big, but great music demands great musicians and under the musical direction of Todd Schroeder on piano, the quartet. that included bass, guitar and percussion, gave the songs that lush feel. Each musician also got several chances to shine in solos and they did a splendid job. It was a very musical and nostalgic evening. Spangler provided the class and the gowns, the audience provided the appropriate applause.


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