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Let the Music Begin
Metropolitan Room, NYC, October 22, 2016
Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes
Listen to Iris Williams and you will find yourself remembering how impeccable her song selections are and how subtly they draw you in. Let the Music Begin with the Welsh-born Williams at the Metropolitan Room was an eloquent finale to the 27th New York Cabaret Convention week.
A willowy sophisticate in black sequins, Williams has an ingenuous warmth and disarming wit. With her lush contralto, with a dash of jazz, spot-on sense of rhythm and phrasing, she delivered a best-of-the-best potpourri of up-tempos and ballads. She moved easily around the stage, keeping an adroit connection to her audience as well as to her lyrics, accompanied by a classy jazz trio with Musical Director/pianist Art Weiss, Tom Hubbard on bass and David Sillman on drums.
“Let There Be Love” (Ian Grant and Lionel Rand) lent a joyful swing, and the elegant flow of “The Way You Look Tonight” (Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields) put a glow on the evening.
One of several poignant moments was Williams’ rendition of “It’s Not the Same,” a touching waltz written by co-director of the Mabel Mercer Foundation, Alyce Finell, for her musical theater piece, Mabel’s Place. It’s a tender song performed by an artist who can understand, and deliver, its soul and spirit. Another outstanding ballad was “When October Goes” with lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Barry Manilow. Stanley Meyers and Cleo Laine’s “He Was Beautiful” was a major hit recording for Williams, and was here dedicated to the memory of the late Russ Weatherford. Williams admitted she was not enamored with Stephen Sondheim, but her rich rendition of “Children Will Listen” proved its mettle as the moral of Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
Williams has a rangy voice that flows like fine wine over the octaves. “Old Devil Moon” (E.Y. Harburg/Burton Lane) and Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn’s “I’m Checkin’ Out, Goom-bye” were alive with snap and vigor. When she was influenced by Rosemary Clooney, Williams turned her concentration to the American Songbook with a favorite Clooney story song, “The Folks Who Live on the Hill” (Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II). Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson’s “Remember Me” brought the program to a close. Not to be forgotten, however, are her two well-organized medleys, one for the songs of Irving Berlin, highlighted with “I Got Lost in His Arms,” and the other was a Piaf medley in French—just a soupçon of the captivating talents of Iris Williams.
Critics Review Iris Williams at
VICKY’S SANTE FE CABARET SUPPER CLUB
INDIAN WELLS CALIFONIA
Radio Transcript from 1/29/15:
I want to encourage all of you to get VICKY’S OF SANTA FE on your radar and drop by to see the wonderful Cabaret and Jazz Offerings in their Cabaret Lounge.
I had the opportunity to see Welsh Cabaret Star Iris Williams last Monday evening – I told you last week it was one of my “Best Bets” in Cabaret for the week – but IRIS by far exceeded my expectations.
“Ms. Williams – who, by the way was presented with an OBE -- Order Of The British Empire --- by Queen Elizabeth the 2nd, was pitch perfect and truly one of the finest Cabaret artists I have had the pleasure of seeing – on par with the likes of Cabaret Icons Julie Wilson and Nancy LaMott, whom I treasure. She sings with tremendous passion and clarity and ease, and brings new meaning and perspective to the old standard songs we have heard time and time again making them fresh and new and exciting.”
“She is a master storyteller and captivating at every turn. Her tribute to Edith Piaf was, in a word, breathtaking.”
- D W Green, Broadway World & I HEART Radio
Critics Rave about Iris Williams’ Return
to New York Cabaret…
"Crisply elegant & regal, Iris Williams can be folksy a bit, too. She's a class
act with the voice of warm brandy which envelops the room in her low-key,
no fussiness way. She knows her way around a ballad & its cozy corners."
Rob Lester, NiteLifeExchange.com