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Culture Watch: Barbara Cook and Michael Feinstein's new 'Cheek to Cheek'

February 20, 2011 |  9:00 am

FeinsteinCook "Barbara Cook & Michael Feinstein: Cheek to Cheek" (Duckhill Records).

The forever young octogenarian Barbara Cook and the eternally boyish Michael Feinstein made this live recording during their engagement at the deluxe nightspot Feinstein's at Lowes Regency last season. But the concert was probably more satisfying to attend than listen to. 

The jazzy orchestrations favor Feinstein's style more than Cook's. He likes to swing; she likes to sonorously elucidate. They definitely have friendly chemistry, but the musical blend sometimes seems unsettled.
Cook's soprano isn't at its lustrous best here, but the fault is really collaborative. As the duo's sketchy renditions of "Tea for Two" and "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" reveal, like sensibilities don't always bring out the best in each other.
This may not rank at the top of either artist's impressive body of work, but any opportunity to hear Cook's autumnal interpretations of "Where Do You Start" and "Here's to Life" is worthy of some gratitude. And the two bring some lunar light to their finale of "Shine on Harvest Moon."    

-- Charles McNulty\charlesmcnulty