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MICHAEL FEINSTEIN

PUBLISHED: 11:24 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:18 22 July 2010

A class act – the phrase could have been invented to describe this exponent of the Great American Songbook.

Shaw Theatre, Euston Road, NW1

A class act - the phrase could have been invented to describe this exponent of the Great American Songbook. The New York-based singer and pianist has his own Manhattan nightclub and is renowned for his absolute respect for the integrity of the music and lyrics of American classical popular music.

He also numbers many of America's showbiz and musical celebrities among his close friends - one of whom was Frank Sinatra.

This concert at the Shaw showcased Feinstein's new album, his 24th - The Sinatra Project - which is a tribute to Sinatra and features the master's songs, including some lesser known ones and some given fresh life by inventive new arrangements. This was aided by conductor and arranger Bill Elliott and a big band of ace musicians filling in for the likes of favourite Sinatra supporters such as Nelson Riddle and Billy May. And it was a blast - literally!

Feinstein's beautifully controlled voice is like a musical instrument itself. Powerful and soaring, yet delicate and smooth at the same time, he demonstrated superb interpretation of the lyrics. If anything, his performance was a little too perfect and slick. Real Sinatra afficionados might have preferred a rougher-edged, jazzier approach, more akin to Old Blue Eyes himself.

The set was masterfully linked with a series of first-hand anecdotes about the great man and his life, which made for a thoroughly entertaining show - and probably sent most of the audience off scurrying to get a copy of the album.

Feinstein is not too well-known on this side of the Atlantic, but if you like your standards sung with a bit of cheesy Las Vegas-style schmaltz, Feinstein will not disappoint. He's not a Sinatra imitator. He's in a class of his own. - TONY ALLCOCK


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