- CHARITY BENEFIT
By:Linda Amiel Burns
Lee Summers has been producing his “Just a Piano” series at The Triad for the past six years and on May 17, 2012, he presented ASCAP-Award-winning songwriting duo, David Alpher (pianist/composer) and Jennie Litt (singer/lyricist) in their show, “The Things That Make Us Sing.”
Since this husband and wife duo are songwriters, I was surprised when they opened with “Let’s Face The Music And Dance” admitting that there was no real connection to this Irving Berlin song. However, most of the show consisted of the couple’s clever original material sung by Jennie with David accompanying her on piano. The second song was a jazzy tune with brilliant lyrics talking of what makes us “Hot” and giving me a better sense of their composing talents and, as the show progressed, who this couple are and what makes them tick.
Jennie and David were living in the Hudson Valley for many years and wrote “Make Yourself at Home” relating the trials and tribulations of running a country bed and breakfast to bring in extra income, which Jennie sang to perfection. Another clever and imaginative song was the saga of “Two Apples” that “grew on the very same branch: one named Rosie, the other named Blanche.” A memorable moment was a lovely instrumental by David Alpher called “Remembered” and I would have liked to have heard more from him as Jennie, being the vocalist, tended to dominate the act. To celebrate their move back to the city and the birth of their daughter Mirabelle, Jennie sang a tribute to their new home and family life with “A Brooklyn Lullaby.”
Although Jennie and David chose to include songs by other composers such as Stephen Foster (“Nelly Was a Lady” – 1849), Laura Nyro (“And When I Die”) and more from Berlin (Russian Lullaby/I Love a Piano), it is their own compositions that I really wanted to hear since I didn’t know their work. Litt & Alpher celebrated their 10th Anniversary and the song called “Marriage” recounted that, although in a long marriage the excitement might have died down, “Yes, this is true love, It’s you, love.” I also enjoyed another song in a lowdown bluesy style called “We’ve All Got to Live in this World” about people needing to be civil to each other with lyrics “At the café where we sit back to back, can the cell phone yak-yak or I’ll spill my latte on your Mac.” The title song, “The Things That Make Us Sing” was particularly strong outlining some of the important moments in life that touch us. The show ended with Berlin’s 1911 song “Yiddisha Nightingale” which cleverly mirrored Jennie and David’s relationship – “Yiddisha nightingale, sing me a song, your voice has got such sweetness that it makes me strong. I’ll go and learn to play on the piano, say you’ll sing while I’m playing.”
Congratulations to Lee Summers for his long-running series and for bringing Jennie Litt and David Alpher to The Triad. Jennie is a fine singer/performer, David a master musician and their material is fresh and original. With a little fine tuning from director Lina Koutrakos, this talented writing team’s cabaret act can become a crowd pleaser. An added plus was that Sheet Music for their songs was available at the door for the audience, a good way to get familiar with their work.
For more information: litt-and-alpher.com