23 OCT 07 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Michael Feinstein is a busy guy -- composer, producer, entrepreneur, musical historian, preservationist and PBS documentary host. Oh yeah, he sings and plays piano, too. His latest recording, a double CD entitled Romance On Film, Romance On Broadway, is a compilation of love songs made famous in movies and musicals from the '20s to the '80s.
When Feinstein was 20, he began working as a personal assistant for Ira Gershwin. One of his duties was to archive the Gershwin brothers' unpublished compositions and catalog George's extensive album collection. This intimate access to the father of the Great American Songbook surely planted the seeds of Feinstein's almost religious devotion to preserving the music through performance and education. And if he wanted some perspective on the material from a singer's point of view, he could look to Gershwin's next-door neighbor, Rosemary Clooney, with whom he developed a lifelong friendship.
His knowledge, love, and deep connection to the material are evident on this 22-song CD, not only in his musical interpretation, but also the self-penned liner notes. Each song gets a short bio, fascinating bits of background information and historical perspective that add to the enjoyment of the listening. Gershwin may not have realized when he hired his young assistant that he was solidifying his legacy and an art form through the enthusiasm of an eager acolyte.