Feinstein’s at the Nikko, August 23, 2018, San Francisco, CA
Baritone Todd Murray brought an updated version of his hit 2015 show “Croon” to Feinstein’s in an evening of Great American Songbook classics performed in the inimitable style of Crosby, Sinatra and Torme. Murray is authentic to a tee, even using an old-fashioned ribbon mic and arrangements that harken back to the good ole days of yore. Affected by the fog and smoke of nearby fires, Murray’s voice was still beautiful; his phrasing and delivery silky smooth. Supported by pianist Quinn Johnson, the set covered chestnuts from the 20’s to the 50’s, including composers like Porter, Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Jimmy Van Heusen.
Personable and charming, Murray leads the audience through the history of crooning, literally singing Sam Coslow and Arthur Johnson’s “Learn to Croon”. A humorous anecdote about male independence was a segue to “Don’t Fence Me In (Cole Porter / Robert Fletcher). Jerome Moross and John La Touche’s lovely “Lazy Afternoon” from 1954’s Golden Apple and a surprising crooner version of Sade’s “Is It A Crime” were set highlights. A nice arrangement of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s 1968 smash “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” segued into the comic “Rhode Island is Famous for You” (Arthur Schwartz / Howard Dietz).
Todd closed his set with a rousing, up-tempo “That’s All”, a 1959 hit for Bobby Darin. Murray played for a small but very appreciative audience, evidence of the diminishing recognition and appeal of the style that Murray represents. Like the ribbon mic, tuxedo and the croon style, Murray is a reminder of days gone by – a wistful nostalgia that is remembered fondly by fewer and fewer people.