In May 1968, Mabel Mercer
and Bobby Short, both known for their club performances, shared the bill at a concert at New York's Town Hall. The sixtysomething Mercer
was, of course, a major influence on the fortysomething Short, but their styles were different enough to make for a lively combination. The show as a big success, leading to a double album released on Atlantic Records, and the whole thing was done over again with an all-new repertoire -- a year later. This double-CD set combines the two original two-LP sets for a wonderful collection of Mercer
and Short. The headliner, of course, is a peerless song stylist, and her two extended segments are full of brilliantly performed, sophisticated, and funny songs that delighted her listeners in the hall and should do so at home, too. The first show contains many of her old favorites, while the second show features many songs about getting old but triumphing over the aging process. Short turns in more varied sets, accompanying himself on piano and using a rhythm section, his sets including the material he is known for by composers like Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Cy Coleman. In his second set, he devotes the last half of the show to songs by Vernon Duke, who had died recently at the time of the concert. The two performers only share three songs, two at the end of the first disc and one at the end of the second, and those sound off-the-cuff. So, one might wish for more of Mercer
and Short actually singing together rather than simply being on the same well-chosen bill. But this is a lot of fantastic cabaret music for the money.