Barbra Streisand Live at the Bon Soir
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- Released: November 4, 2022
- Originally Released: 2022
- Label: Sony Legacy
Personnel: Tiger Haynes (guitar); Peter Daniels (piano); Averill Pollard (upright bass); Johnny Cresci (drums).
Audio Mixer: Jochem van der Saag.
Liner Note Authors: Jay Landers ; Barbra Streisand.
Recording information: The Bon Soir, Greenwich Village, New York (11/1962).
Photographer: Don Hunstein.
Barbra Streisand generated a small but insistent degree of show biz buzz with her star-making role in the Broadway musical I Can Get It for You Wholesale when she signed with Columbia Records -- one of the biggest and most prestigious labels of the day -- in 1962. Streisand was drawing crowds and charming critics with her appearances at the Bon Soir, a nightclub in New York's Greenwich Village, and Columbia felt capturing her live show might be a good way to introduce her to a larger audience. As it happened, the Bon Soir's acoustics made it difficult to make a properly balanced recording, and after hearing the tapes Columbia's engineers delivered, the label chose to put Streisand in the studio to create a splashier and more sonically controlled recording. The Bon Soir recordings went into the vault, and while bits and pieces were bootlegged over the years, the projected live album didn't materialize until 2022, when advanced spectral editing technology made it possible to give the tapes a better mix. 60 years after it was recorded, Live at the Bon Soir gives us a rare chance to hear Streisand when she was a relatively unknown talent -- a window of time that didn't last long, given the massive success of 1963's The Barbra Streisand Album -- and performing with a remarkable combination of vocal skill, performance savvy, and a youthful delight in the interaction between herself, her musicians, and her audience. (How unknown was she in November 1962? The Columbia executive who introduces her mispronounces her name, unimaginable a year later.) All 11 songs that appeared on The Barbra Streisand Album are included here, along with 12 others. While the studio recordings were given splashy arrangements by Peter Matz, Live at the Bon Soir featured Streisand backed by a modest, skillful quartet led by pianist Peter Daniels; though they lend superb support, they know enough to stay out of her way. Streisand's voice is front and center on Live at the Bon Soir, and it's hard to imagine anything upstaging her. Only 20 years old, Streisand's control of her instrument is already dazzling, and her phrasing and dynamics are remarkably clever and sophisticated; she knows exactly what to do with this material, and delivers a set that nods to cabaret traditions as she puts a fresh and exciting spin on the art of nightclub singing. As polished and expert as she sounds here, there's a sincere giddiness and good humor in her more playful numbers and between-song patter, reflecting the joy of an artist just learning to make her gifts work to her advantage. Streisand's popularity outgrew the confines of a small club with impressive speed, and Live at the Bon Soir documents a very brief moment when she was just learning how to wow an audience. It clearly took very little time for that lesson to take, and this is a glorious archival find. ~ Mark Deming
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