“Music is a moral law.  It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” — Plato

Wall Street Journal Tribute to Cy Walter and the Sublimities CDs

cywaltersublimitiesTerry Teachout, the Wall Street Journal’s music/drama critic, has crafted an extraordinarily well-written tribute to Cy Walter’s artistry which also heralds the timely Cy Walter Centennial release of Harbinger Records’ two-CD set, Cy Walter:  Sublimities,  Vols. 1 and 2 (available for purchase on Amazon).  Terry’s lyrical prose applauds Cy’s musical genius and seeks to ensure that many more people discover and enjoy it.  The article appears directly below, but you may need to wait a few moments for it to appear while the site loads the image.

For an excellent 23 December 2015 review of these Sublimities CDs by author Frank Behrens which appeared in the Brattleboro, Vermont Reformer newspaper, visit http://www.reformer.com/ovation/ci_29304321/keyboard-artistry-cy-walter .  And a 21 March 2016 review by film critic Leonard Maltin may also be enjoyed at http://leonardmaltin.com/a-jazz-approach-to-vertigo/.

Cy Walter Article.Terry Teachout.WSJ.14 January 2016

The Cy Walter Centennial Celebration and CD Release Party

cystageThis historic event went superbly, with a packed house, a joyously-entertained audience, and incredible performers who showcased Cy’s music brilliantly.  Four excellent reviews you may wish to check out are that of Alix Cohen’s, on Broadway World; that of Peter Haas’ on TheaterPizzazz; that of  Linda Amiel Burns on theaterscene.com  (replete with terrific photos by Maryann Lopinto); and that of Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes Magazine.  You may also view the amazing performance of Cy Walter’s original composition, “The Astaire”, as created by vocalist Steve Ross, The Cy Walter Celebratory Orchestra, and superb dancers Heather Gehring and Lou Brockman, at The Cy Walter Foundation’s YouTube Channel, or by going to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2wgxqpAhYo.

Below is a superb video of the Centennial Celebration created by the talented Michael Stever and incorporating the excellent multi-tracked audio recordings created by expert audio engineer Rubin Nizri.  Ideally, this should be watched in high definition mode.  And below this video is another video of a separate slideshow that Richard Behrens crafted from images taken of the event by professional photographer Maryann Lopinto.  We’ve placed these movies on The Cy Walter Foundation’s You Tube channel, with their direct links respectively being https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nxxzj7273E8 (this being the actual show video, in its entirety); and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v3H4Z5hVA4 (this being the photo slideshow video).  Or you may access them directly on the video links below.

As noted in these two videos, the awesome performing cast for this event included Doug Bowles; Lou Brockman; Eric Comstock; Jed Distler; Barbara Fasano; Musical Director Tedd Firth; Heather Gehring; Jeff Harnar; Alex Hassan; Jenny Lin; Peter Mintun; Marissa Mulder; Karen Oberlin; Steve Ross; Jennifer Sheehan; KT Sullivan; Stacy Sullivan; Ronny Whyte; and The Cy Walter Celebratory Orchestra.  This amazing orchestra was comprised of the following musicians:   Saxophones:  Marc Phaneuf; Dan Levinson; Mark Lopeman; Kurt Bacher; Trumpets:  Brian Pareschi; Evan Barker; Irv Grossman; Trombones: Matt Musselman; Mike Boscarino; Piano: Tedd Firth; Bass:  Tom Hubbard; and Drums:  Peter Grant.  We have also, in segments created by Richard Behrens, put up individual performer videos on the Cy Walter Foundation’s YouTube Channel.  Enjoy! 

The Initial Announcement of the Show:  Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime event, celebrating the musical genius of Cy Walter (1915-1968) and Harbinger Records’ release of its superb two-CD set of true rarities, entitled Cy Walter, Pianist/Cy Walter, Composer: Sublimities, Vols. 1 and 2  [(distributed through Naxos and Amazon worldwide, and available through  www.harbingerrecords.com)].  [Please note:  Post-release of the CDs we have discovered an error in the vocal artist attribution on one of the song tracks: Sublimities CD Vol. 2, Track 18 (“Getting To Know You”) is listed as being sung by Marlene Dietrich; when the actual vocalist is Greta Keller.  Our apologies; this will be corrected in future production runs of the CD.]

Pianistic and vocal pyrotechnics to be performed by a large roster of awesomely-talented cabaret luminaries, focusing upon Cy’s unparalleled solo and duo piano arrangements, along with up to two dozen of his gorgeous original song compositions. Virtuousic accompaniment by the twelve-piece orchestra of The Cy Walter Celebratory Orchestra, with musical direction by the inimitable Tedd Firth. Join us on Sunday, the 27th of September, 2015 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. (doors open for drinks/dinner at 5:00 p.m.) at The Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd Street (between Madison and Park Avenues), Manhattan. Tickets $30 in advance, $35 at the door, with a $20 food and drink minimum; available at www.thecuttingroomnyc.com, or call 212-691-1900. Seating is limited, and this unique event, indubitably one for the ages, will not be repeated. So purchase now, and embark with us upon a delightful 21st Century renaissance of mid-20th Century musical wonders!

Mark Walter
July, 2015

Creation of the Cy Walter Foundation

The Cy Walter Foundation has been formally incorporated as a Pennsylvania not-for-profit corporation and has been accorded tax-exempt, federal Section 501(c)(3) treatment. This means that all contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. All donations (100 percent of which are applied to the Foundation’s mission; no salaries are paid and all efforts are volunteered) are gratefully welcomed.  Donations may be made by check payable to the Cy Walter Foundation and sent to the address below, or by clicking on the “Donate” via PayPal button below.

The purpose of the Foundation is to generate and support activities and projects which increase public awareness of the spirit and creative genius of musician Cy Walter and which perpetuate his lifework. The Cy Walter Centennial Celebration to be held on 27 September 2015 is a prime example of such an effort. The Foundation’s Board of Directors consists of Mark Walter (also President); Anna Behrens (also Secretary); and Brian Weeks (also Treasurer), with Richard Behrens being an Advisory Board Member. You may contact the Foundation through Mark Walter at markwalter@cywalter.com or 212-579-5442; the Foundation’s address is 619 Fifth Street, #2, Milford, Pennsylvania 18337.

Mark Walter
July, 2015

Cam Walter LaGennusa (1932-2010)

CyAndCamChurchWeddingPhotoAfter a long battle with lung cancer, Cam Walter LaGennusa, Cy’s widow, passed away at age 78 on 20 October 2010.  Cam was the most wonderful mother for which a son could hope, and was, as more fully explained in the “About This Site” page, the ultimate savior, protector, and progenitor of the materials shared here.  Before her marriage to Cy and her subsequent homemaker and parenting roles, Cam was a professional model in New York City.  Cam was also a true cabaret professional, a discerning connoisseur of the wonderful music, people, and places that this unique art form engenders.  In this context, she was familiar with almost all of the luminaries of the New York City Café Society world, counting as her close friends artists such as Mabel Mercer, Alec Wilder, Bart Howard, George Shearing, Bobby Short, along with many others.  Cam was truly proud of Cy’s musical genius, and in a crucial sense exhibited her love for him and his artistry by carefully retaining all the amazing materials about Cy’s career and world which the Walter family is now privileged to share on this site.

Cam is survived by her husband of over three decades, Joseph LaGennusa; her daughters, Victoria and Daphne; her son, Mark; and her grandson, Christian. Cam’s family and friends deeply mourn her passing.  Should anyone have any memories of Cam that they may wish to share with other visitors to this site, please send them by e-mail to me at markwalter@cywalter.com .

The Cam Walter Memorial Celebration was held on 17 October 2011 at the Algonquin Hotel’s Oak Room.  Attended by family and friends, the event was a musical zenith in honor of a woman for whom music was essential to life.  The stellar performers included Doug Bowles, Joyce Breach, Eric Comstock, Barbara Fasano, Vince Giordano, Alex Hassan, Mark Hummel, Peter Mintun, Steve Ross, Daryl Sherman, KT Sullivan, Marlene VerPlanck, Ronny Whyte, Julie Wilson, and Bill Zeffiro.  Unbeknownst then to all, this was the last private event to be held in the Oak Room; an irony in light of Cy Walter’s having opened the room as the Supper Club on 29 November 1939 with Greta Keller.  Nonetheless, that magical event did justice both to Cam Walter’s love for excellent music, and to the room’s existential and historical significance in hosting so much of it.

Mark Walter
September, 2015 

Richard Cameron-Wolfe Blogs Cy

Richard Cameron-Wolfe, a Taos, New Mexico musician with an NPR radio program that mostly presents classical music, wrote the following excerpt from an article entitled “Confessions of a Clash-ical DJ”.  Orignially published in the May, 2007 Taos, New Mexico “Daily Horse Fly” newspaper, the piece describes his experience in playing various composers’ music, and focuses in part on the phone calls received in reaction to his choices.  The passage below encapsulizes the enigma inherent in attempting to categorize or label Cy Walter’s musical style:

Improvisations by the legendary cocktail jazz pianist Cy Walter followed.  One heard familiar manifestations of melody, harmony, and rhythm, contrasting themes, etc., but … another phone call.  Not “classical” enough for the classical connoisseurs.  Problem: not jazzy enough for the jazzers.  A man without a niche, without a marketing label, without a record store bin.  Walter did what the great historical improvisers (Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt) had done, only his “themes” were show tunes instead of opera arias.  Give a listen and see what you think, at www.cywalter.com.

Paul James Lewis Plays Cy

PaulJamesLewisPaul James Lewis is a classical pianist living in Chicago, who has been the Principal Company/Performance Pianist for The Chicago Joffrey Ballet since 2002.  Paul describes himself as “mainly a perfomer not a composer”, playing music written in the last hundred years.  Paul has a special fondness for ragtime and piano music from the 1910’s – 1940’s, listing his favorite composers as being:  Maurice Ravel, Leos Janacek, Ernesto Lecuona, Charles Griffes, Cyril Scott, Claude Debussy, Billy Mayerl, Rube Bloom, Dana Suesse, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Lothar Perl, Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb, James Scott, and several others.  Paul has recently included on his “MySpace” page his performance of Cy Walter’s “Isn’t It Romantic?”

Cy Walter, the Rachmaninoff of the lounge pianists by Paul James Lewis

I’ve just put up a new file of my playing an arrangement by Cy Walter of a Richard Rodgers song, “Isn’t It Romantic?”. Cy Walter was an amazing piano stylist of the 40’s and 50’s and played the best lounge rooms in the New York hotels. His technique was astonishing, yet never let the melody be washed away by improvisation or over-embellishment. I sometimes think of him as the Rachmaninoff of the cocktail pianists. Enjoy!

Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks

Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks
Monday and Tuesday Evenings
Iguana, New York City
240 West 54th Street

vince_giordano_200Grammy-winner VINCE GIORDANO AND HIS NIGHTHAWKS ORCHESTRA appear at the Iguana New York City nightclub, located at 240 West 54th Street (between 8th Avenue and Broadway), New York, New York 10019 every Monday and Tuesday from 8pm-11pm. There is a music cover charge of $20, cash at the door, plus a food/drink minimum of $20. Dining and Dancing To Music of the 1920s and 1930s, superbly performed by a maestro of the genre and his superlative eleven-piece orchestra. In thirty-plus years as a bandleader, Vince Giordano has become the authority on recreating the sounds of 1920s and ’30s jazz and popular music. “I just love the energy of the early jazz,” says Giordano. “I wanted to recapture some of that.” Early Girodano appearances included working with Leon Redbone and on The Prairie Home Companion; as well as Vince’s lending his talents to Francis Ford Coppola’s film, The Cotton Club. These led Vince to working with Dick Hyman’s Orchestra in half a dozen Woody Allen soundtracks, then as a bass player in Sean Penn’s band in Woody’s Sweet and Lowdown. Vince and band were featured in Gus Van Sant’s film, Finding Forrester; in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator; in Robert DeNiro’s film, The Good Shepherd; and in Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road. Most recently, they have won acclaim for their roles in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Also a big-band historian and collector, Giordano has more than 30,000 scores in his collection. Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks are renowned on the New York scene for their commitment to preserving and authentically presenting 1920s jazz and popular music.

Visit Vince Giordano’s website

Visit Vince Giordano and His Nighthawk Orchestra’s Facebook Page!

The Story So Far – Stephen Sondheim 4-CD Set Released

SondheimPreviously-Unreleased Cy Walter and Stan Freeman Performance of Stephen Sondheim’s “I Must Be Dreaming” released on 30 September 2008 and now in stores.

Sony BMG Masterworks is proud to announce the release of Stephen Sondheim: The Story So Far, a comprehensive four CD box set with a playing time of over four and a half hours devoted to the entire career of the legendary Broadway songwriter. The box, the first of its kind, was released September 30, 2008.

For more information and track listing check out the American Theater Web.

In the new issue of the Dramatists Guild Quarterly, Craig Carnelia, asks Stephen Sondheim: “What was the first moment you saw something of yours really work in a theater?”

SS:  It must have been in college.  This is not really the answer to your question, but if you said to me, ‘What’s your first emotional memory of hearing something you’d written?’  I’d reply that I wrote a song in college called ‘I Must Be Dreaming,’ a love song, for an adaptation of BEGGAR ON HORSEBACK.  My father often went to the Barbary Room to hear Cy Walters and Stan Freeman play two pianos.  He got a copy of the song to them, and they played it on WNEW, and I heard the broadcast.  I was all alone.  I went up to the Hammersteins’, a five-story townhouse between 5th and Madison.  The house was empty, and this was the hilarious neurotic thing I did:  I was there all alone, and I turned on the radio and I sat under a table to listen to it.  I don’t think we need to go any farther into the psychological implications of that, but I sat under the table and felt so proud.  That’s what I remember.  I still have a recording of that broadcast.

Alex Hassan

alexh2Alex Hassan, a tremendously-talented Northern Virginia pianist whose forte includes novelty piano of the 20s and 30s, had a central role in the creation and release of the Shellwood “Cy Walter:  The Park Avenue Tatum” CD.  At the time of the CD’s release, Alex shared his thoughts on Cy’s artistry and on the CD with others in an e-mail forwarded to the “78-L” internet forum.
Read his letter here