Review: The Park Avenue Whirl

Golden Age in Full Swing on Park Avenue
by Frank Scheck
New York Post, December 21, 2005

Even not wearing black tie, it’s impossible to feel less than sophisticated watching “The Park Avenue Whirl,” a salute to the glorious music of the ’20s and ’30s. Starring such performers as singer/pianist Daryl Sherman and Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks Orchestra, both more commonly seen in such places as the Waldorf, the evening is guaranteed to lift spirits without imbibing them.

“So many songs, so little time,” Sherman accurately laments at the start. And, in the next two hours or so, the performers deliver dozens of medleys devoted to Cole Porter, the music of the Cotton Club, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and others, all drawn from the golden age of the American songbook.

Sherman, a terrific pianist and singer with a sweet, feathery voice, is equally adept handling such amusing novelty numbers as Duke Ellington’s “Swing Time in Honolulu” or the touching sentiments of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.”

Giordano, playing bass, saxophone and, for one number, the tuba, leads the expert Nighthawks through thrillingly swinging arrangements that demonstrate why they’ve become one of the most popular ensembles in the city.

Adding further delights to the proceedings are singer Marion Cowings, who lends his incredibly smooth and gorgeous baritone voice to such classics as “On the Street of Dreams” and “The Very Thought of You,” and his son Alexander, a talented tap dancer who provides visual and rhythmic accompaniment to songs like “Happy Feet.” If you can remain still during that number, incidentally, you may not be displaying any vital signs.

Only in the final moments, when the performers lead the audience on a sing-along of “White Christmas,” are the holidays acknowledged. But “The Park Avenue Whirl” is in itself a festive occasion.

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