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Dewey Erney--a Singer To Remember

July 21, 1986|LEONARD FEATHER

The restaurant known as At Marty's, on Pico Boulevard, where unusual local experiments have been taking place lately, has come up with a winner in the person of Dewey Erney.

You wouldn't think it to look at him. With his formal tuxedo, black tie and his 40-plus appearance, you might easily mistake him for the maitre d'. Yet as soon as he eased unannounced into "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," it was evident that here was a singer with all the right qualifications.

Erney was accompanied throughout simply by a guitar. But simple is hardly the word for Ron Eschete, whose backing and frequent solos were as much a central component of the performance as Erney's spirited, confident interpretations of pop standards.

If you love Mel Torme or Tony Bennett, at the very least you will like Dewey Erney. Not that any deliberate resemblance can be spotted other than a shared respect for fine lyrics and great melodies.

Four of the songs in the show caught were waltzes. First came "Blusette"; then a preview plug for next Friday's vocal attraction, Gene Lees, via the admirable Lees lyric to Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby." The third was "Tete's Tune," an original by Eschete to which Erney set convoluted words dealing with how hard it was to add lyrics to such an unsingable melody. The fourth waltz was an old Frank Rosolino tune, "Blue Daniel," with genius words by Ben Sidran.

Bernie's forte, though, lies in the great ballads, from "Angel Eyes" to "All the Things You Are," the latter cleaverly coupled with "The Song Is You." Often he yielded the floor to his partner, as in "Like Someone in Love," on which Eschete soloed in three of the five choruses. Given his "right arm," as Erney called him, and his own right vocal ideas, this is a powerful combination of which more should be heard.

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