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Pop and Jazz Reviews : A Lullaby on 'Broadway' Night at the Hollywood Bowl

August 22, 1994|DON HECKMAN

The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra continued its soporific stroll toward September on Friday and Saturday nights with a "Broadway Blues in the Night" program that was, too often, a guaranteed cure for insomnia.

Once again, conductor John Mauceri included "World Premiere Concert Performances" of works which had minimal orchestral substance. The first, a Mauceri arrangement of themes from Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music," did little to enhance the original melodies and failed to even remotely recall its alleged model, Ravel's "La Valse."

"Free and Easy," like other recent Mauceri "World Premieres," was simply a collection of show tunes, in this case composed by Harold Arlen, with easily forgettable orchestrations by Quincy Jones.

Mauceri's non-premiere items were much more appealing choices, including the Leonard Bernstein "Mambo" from "West Side Story" and Richard Rodgers' "Slaughter on Tenth Ave."

The orchestra's best work emerged in a stylish rendering--with an added jazz band concerto grosso--of three movements from Ellington's "Night Creature."

Nell Carter--a last-minute replacement for Jennifer Holliday--was most effective when she was belting songs from "Ain't Misbehavin'." But her idiosyncratic articulation and unfocused vocal timbre never quite managed to get in sync with an earlier set of Gershwin tunes that clearly were orchestrated with Holliday in mind.

Attendance: 12,408 on Friday, 14,539 on Saturday.

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