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Lecture / Discussion  |  Steve Ross Performs From Saloon to Salon: Travelling With My Piano

Part of the High Standards: The Legacy of the Great American Songbook concert series

Thursday, February 23, 2012, 12:15–1:30 pm

Rockwell Hall Room 124  

Buffalo State College's commitment to the cultural educational experiences will be reflected through the cross disciplinary presentation of the concert lecture series High Standards: The Legacy of the Great American Songbook as part of the Year of The Arts.

On three consecutive Thursdays (February 23 /  March 1 /  March 8), the Burchfield Penney Art Center will play host to cabaret jazz greats Steve Ross, Kathleen Landis and Bob Dorough respectively.

Each of these singer-pianists has received international acclaim entertaining in intimate jazz and cabaret settings. Their main focus has been keeping the American Songbook tradition alive. All three have also played in small and large concert and hall venues. Unlike most traditional singers who offer a “list” of unconnected standards, this trio has honed the difficult but rewarding cabaret theme-oriented shows that elevate their performances to intimate theater-like experiences.

Steve Ross begins the series with an afternoon lecture/demonstration (12:15-1:30) focusing on his career, entitled From Saloon to Salon: Travelling With My Piano. The evening show presents his popular tribute to Fred Astaire, Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.

Kathleen Landis in participation with Woman's History Month will host an afternoon lecture- demonstration (12:15-1:30) The Art of Song/Women in Jazz: A discussion of the art movements relationship to music and her 20 plus year experience at New York’s Fifth Avenue Café Pierre. The evening concert is titled, While We’re Young: A Tribute to Alec Wilder. Bob Dorough will conclude the series with an afternoon lecture-demonstration (12:15-1:30) From Be-bop to School House Rock: A The evening entertainment is also titled, Bob Dorough: Bebop to School House Rock!. The talk will focus on Bob’s influential song writing and his importance in writing educational songs for the popular TV series School House Rock.

The afternoon presentations are hosted by Buffalo State music professor Chuck Mancuso, author of Popular Music and the Underground, and coordinator, promoter and founder of this series, Buffalo State graduate, Ari Silverstein.

All evening shows begin at 7:00 pm.

The events are funded by the outstanding support of an FSA Grant and Gail Wells and the Office for Student Life and the Burchfield Penney for hosting High Standards.

Steve Ross: “The Crown Prince of Cabaret”

Born in New Rochelle, New York and raised in Washington, D.C., Steve learned to play piano on his own, attended Georgetown University and served in the United States Army before coming to New York City in the early 1970s. His fame began to emerge with successful residences at the Algonquin Hotel at the legendary Oak Room and the now-departed Ted Hook’s Backstage. His globe-trotting performances all -over -the -world, has resulted to his present billing as “The Crown Prince of Cabaret.” He is the leading male figure in the cabaret world since the passing of Bobby Short.

This charming, debonair artist has a resemblance of a mixture of Cole Porter and Noel Coward (and his numerous theme-oriented shows seem to underscore that connection). Those astute and brilliant theme presentations are portraits of sublime theatrical entertainments. The American Songbook tradition is his canvas (songs associated with composers and lyricists such as Richard Rodgers, Harold Arlen, Dorothy Fields, Johnny Mercer and other legends of Tin Pan Alley). “Attending a Ross performance is like opening a treasure chest of great, often rare, songs. No one performing today is his equal,” raved the San Francisco Chronicle.

In just the past years, his all-too-many tributes have included: Piaf: Her Life, Lovers and Songs; I Remember Him Well, the Songs of Alan Jay Lerner; The Songs of Stephen Sondheim; Noel and Cole; Cole Porter Meets Fats Waller; Hooray for Hollywood; Travels with My Piano; Rhythm and Romance; Gotta Have Hart and Hammerstein!; To Wit: Ross on Wry (Funny Songs Throughout the Ages).

Mr. Ross will perform Top Hat White Tie and Tails: A Tribute to Fred Astaire. Peter Hass of Cabaret Scene sraved, “An Astaire-way to paradise! Your cabaret season is incomplete without this visit with Steve Ross.” San Francisco Chronicle’s Philip Elwood enthused that, “Ross’s piano syncopated the tricky rhythms of Berlin’s ‘Puttin on the Ritz’ as if Fred Astaire’s dancing shoes were on the keys.” Stephen Holden, America’s pre-eminent cabaret critic and scholar from the New York Times (he called Ross, “…the suavest of all cabaret performers.”) simply stated that, “Astaire style with wry aside striking gold.” Who could ask for anything more? Leave your dancin’ shoes behind and join the fun at Burchfield Penney’s auditorium, Thursday evening, February 23 at 7pm.