January/February 2008

Ron Kaplan
New York
Kapland Records

There’s nothing original about a disc composed entirely of songs about New York. Nor is there anything terribly original about the way in which Ron Kaplan navigates Manhattan’s musical avenues. Kaplan’s taste in songs remains impeccable (special kudos to him for including Lester Young’s sharkskin-sleek “Jumpin’ with Symphony Sid” among the 12 selections), and his dedication to safeguarding the Great American Songbook (both on disc and through his ongoing commitment to the American Songbook Preservation Society) is hugely admirable. But his merely serviceable renditions of “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Drop Me Off In Harlem” and Leonard Bernstein’s bouncy travelogue “New York, New York” (from On the Town) only serve to remind us that each has been done so much better, so very often, before. If you’re going to invest in a Big Apple combo platter, better to shell out for Mel Tormé’s 1963 masterpiece Songs of New York or Bobby Short’s equally sublime, identically titled collection from two decades later.

Originally published in January/February 2008
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