Leslie Uggams Uptown Downtown Makes Glorious CD
Leslie Uggams' show Uptown Downtown, which traces her career from uptown Harlem to downtown Broadway is now a glorious CD. Of course, it is always better to see this great singer live, as she sizzles in front of her audience, but since appearances have sorrowfully become fewer and fewer, how wonderful to have an album of all the terrific music associated with Miss Uggams, whose miraculous vocal instrument and style translate so evocatively brilliant to record.
Including 21 tracks, all the memorable songs are here from the show, plus Uggams proudly telling of her undisputed triumphant beginnings at the Apollo Theatre at age 9. Act 1 has these first songs in Harlem: the rousing "There's a Boat That's Leavin", "Sunny Side of the Street","Up a Lazy River", "A Tisket a Tasket", "Up on the Roof", an intensely subtle "Good Morning Heartache", an ever so deliciously jazzy rendition of "Hello Young Lovers", and the unforgettable "A Train". As Uggams declares, "Uptown will always be a part of me. It gave me my life, my soul and my music."
Act 2 has the beautiful strains of "Love", "Yesterdays", followed by Broadway and "Summertime" where Uggams truly does smoulder, "I Got Plenty of Nuthin", her signature Jerry Herman "If He Walked Into My Life" - no other singer does with this song what Uggams uncannily manages to do - and saluting Lena Horne, the scorching "Stormy Weather", to which Uggams attaches her own special dynamics.
What a sensational collection! Every tune explodes with Uggams' characteristic depth, soul and sheer joy for singing, which will now live on forever.
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Praise to director Michael Bush for his concept, expansion and wonderful execution of the show and to Uggams' eight-piece orchestra, all superb musicians: musical director at the piano Don Rebic; on guitar Andrew Synowiec; on bass Joel Hamilton; on drums Gordon Peeke; on synth David Witham; on trombone Charlie Morillas; on trumpet John Fumo and on woodwinds Sal Lozano.
Uggams has a divine vocal instrument. She can sing a soft quiet ballad in almost a whisper and then belt out the next song to the rear balcony. She's also a singer who really lives her material; a good actress, she digs deeply into what each song says and then shares that with her audience. She's pure bliss! If you love Leslie Uggams, you will love Uptown Downtown. While waiting for Stormy Weather to get to Broadway, she may just want to consider bringing in UTDT. It's a winner, will please her many fans and is a terribly fine evening of theatre not to be missed. Brava, brava, brava!