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July 17, 2018:

THE PRETZEL

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, this week is flying by, like a gazelle doing the Twist and the Frug at the same time, which comes out as the Pretzel, which is what I used to call a certain beloved dear reader when she was a wee bairn.  I have no idea what the HELL I’m talking about, but why let that stop me when I have notes to write.  As I sit here attempting to be pithy, I am listening to a marvelous singer called Ethel Ennis, one of her RCA album – just here and a quintet I think – great voice.  Quite a change from the processed cheese I just heard prior to that, said processed cheese going by the name of Diana Krall.  For me, Ms. Krall seems totally crafted and manufactured, rather like Michael Buble and Kenny G – where everything sounds perfect – every note, every syllable – she fancies herself another Julie London (mostly) or Peggy Lee, but without their soul or interpretive skills.  Here everything is flatlined – every lyric sounding exactly the same, doesn’t matter what that lyric is actually saying.  Nothing is left to chance, nothing sounds spontaneous, every breath, every phrase, every word sounds rehearsed to death and then manipulated in the recording.  The specific album is Quiet Nights and its saving grace is Claus Ogerman’s gorgeous orchestrations – it’s a shame that it’s not another singer who might be inspired by them.  Sorry, I know she has tons of fans, but that’s how I feel about it.  But prior to that it was Bette Midler’s tribute to Peggy Lee.  After the huge disappointment of Some People’s Lives, which I hated, here she’s back with her original partner-in-crime and it makes all the difference in the world – Barry Manilow.  It’s beautifully produced and his and others’ arrangements are great – always respectful of the material, but always somehow sounding fresh and interesting.  The exception is Is That All There Is, where Manilow is smart enough to base his chart on Randy Newman’s original, which is brilliant.

And he knows Bette and more importantly knows recording, performances for the mic, and producing, and the result is one of her best albums ever.  She’s so relaxed and subtle – she doesn’t ever imitate Ms. Lee, which is smart – and her voice has never sounded better.  I absolutely loved every minute (and it’s short) of this album and recommend it highly.

Yesterday was a bit of a day.  I got seven hours of sleep, got up, answered a ton of e-mails (this is going to be the case all week, I’m sure), did some organizing, put out two asks for the Kritzerland show, then I went and had a patty melt and side Caesar salad, both excellent. Then I picked up some packages, then came home, after putting gas in the motor car.  My intention was to go to the car wash near my house, but there was a line out into the street – I don’t get it at two o’clock on a Monday, seriously. Ridiculous.  I think I may be able to do it on Wednesday if I can get in there, as our first rehearsal that day isn’t until six. 

I wrote a rough draft of all the intros for our off-stage voice, so that’s at least begun. Next up is the lighting script and my entrances and exits plot.  Then Sami came and we rehearsed her solo with our MD since he hadn’t played through it with her – it’s really great for her and she sounds fantastic.  Then Richard Allen and I went to Beverly Hills for the orchestra rehearsal.  I was thrilled that the entire ride over the hill had not one car in front of me – that was a first. 

We stayed for all but twenty minutes of the rehearsal.  We were there mostly to make sure that the timings of the four pieces were coming in exactly as we’d asked and happily they did and we even gained a minute or two, which is good because the City informed me that the Mayor wanted to do welcoming introductory remarks – I asked them to be brief and limited to a couple of minutes and I believe that we’re all on the same page about that.

Then I dropped Richard off at his car, and I went to Ralph’s for something to eat, but the stuff that was left was all five and six hundred calories and I figured for that I may as well go get an In-N-Out cheeseburger for less calories, so I did, came home and it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had from there – just perfect.

Then I listened to music, as you know, whilst the gazelle did the latest dance, The Pretzel. And I must state again, I really like Ethel Ennis – a real feel good album, plus a great Here’s That Rainy Day with just her and a piano.

Today, even though I’m not looking forward to it at ALL – at two I have to go to a meeting in Beverly Hills – our final meeting prior to loading in on Friday. I’m hoping it’s at the theater, but I’ve asked for my stuff to go first so I can get out of there in twenty minutes and avoid the traffic.  Once back here, I’ll eat something light but fun, and I’ll then do the lighting script and entrances and exits plots, which I’m sure will continue into Wednesday. I’d like to have all that stuff done by Wednesday before our six o’clock rehearsal.  I think I said that earlier.  I think I’m repeating myself.  The Pretzel. Ethel Ennis.  New paragraph.

The rest of the week is rehearsals mostly, maybe a meeting, meals and getting any kind of relaxing in I can so that I’m fresh as a daisy for Saturday morning.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, attend a meeting – briefly – then eat, hopefully pick up packages, and begin the lighting script and entrances and exits plots, after which I shall plotz. Today’s topic of discussion: Who are your favorite female chantoosies?  Let’s have loads of lovely posting, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, as I do The Pretzel whilst listening to Ethel Ennis.

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