While chronicling Feinsteins fabulous but exhausting life on the road150 performances a year, all over the countryMichael Feinsteins American Songbook delves into cultural history to reveal how popular music reflected different eras in the 20th century and shaped the style, attitude and self-image of America for more than a century.
Michael Feinsteins American Songbook
Recently recovered videotape on an NBC television special “Meet Cyd Charisse” from 1959, in actual “living color” – and this is the 2-inch color broadcast master, as opposed to a black and white kinescope. Here’s the opening number where Cyd welcomes her guest stars.
Michael Feinsteins American Songbook
Michael Feinstein performs “The Same Hello.” Music by John Williams, Lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman. 1978.
Before there were computers, synthesizers, MIDI controllers, sound cards, samplers and drum machines, there were piano rolls. This seemingly simple but devilishly complex device came into being at the end of the 19th century and peaked in popularity around 1923. In this video, Peter Mintun demonstrates to Michael Feinstein a prized roll from 1925, on his immaculately maintained Welte-Mignon grand.
Michael Feinstein tours the now-closed Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, a shrine to the pianist and entertainer who pioneered the kind of spectacular, over-the-top shows that are now the norm on the Strip.
Unravel the mystery of a manuscript attributed to Irving Berlin, and hear an unpublished, unrecorded song by Jerry Herman. 2/10/2012
Bandleader Paul Whitman accompanies singer Ilene Woods in “I’ll Get By” (music by Fred E. Ahlert, lyrics by Roy Turk, 1928) in a 1944 “Sing with the Stars” film for servicement in WW!!. Ilene Woods, who died in 2010 at age 81, was most famous as the singing voice of the animated 1950 Disney film “Cinderella.” She was just 15 years old in this clip.
How Michael Feinstein and conductor/arranger/producer Bill Elliott used the art of musical arrangement to create their Grammy-nominated CD The Sinatra Project, by re-imagining the signature orchestrations of Nelson Riddle and Billy May, whose big band arrangements gave Sinatra his swinging ’50s sound.
Savor the allure of musical nightlife, from Mississippi juke joints to Las Vegas clubs. 2/17/2012
Hear Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury and Christine Ebersole talk about American musicals. 4/5/2013
Join performer Michael Feinstein on his continuing trip through American musical history.
Michael Feinstein visits Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy Magazine, at the famed Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. Hefner is a passionate collector of the American Songbook, and shows Feinstein his record collection and shares a film clip of his favorite singer, the British crooner Al Bowlly.
Michael Feinstein visits collector Ron Lofman in his ‘storage condo’ in Madison, WI. Michael is amazed and delighted to discover some recordings that Ron has preserved that Michael has never heard of, including a promotional record of an interview with songwriter Irving Berlin.
Explore the fast and furious 1920s and 1930s, when jazz was hot, credit was loose and illegal booze flowed freely in underground speakeasies. 2/17/2012
A New Step Every Day, explores the fast and furious 1920s and 1930s, when jazz was hot, credit was loose, and illegal booze flowed freely in underground speakeasies. Feinstein illustrates the impact of talking pictures, the dawn of radio, and the fledgling recording industry. Additionally, it introduces us to collectors and musicians who keep the spirit of the Jazz Age alive today.
Examines how popular songs provided emotional solace and patriotic inspiration during World War II. 2/10/2012
Learn how technology has preserved – and altered – the way we think about the great songs and singers of the past. 2/3/2012
Michael Feinstein visits film collector Mark Cantor who demonstrates his Panoram machine, which was used to play ‘Soundies’ in the 1940s. Soundies were the original music videos, a kind of motion picture juke box installed in bars and restaurants that offered short musical films of all the popular talents of the era.
Explore the marriage of music and choreography with Feinstein and Liza Minnelli. 4/5/2013
This is the Army was a traveling, all-soldier musical revue created by Irving Berlin to raise money for WWII. These two clips from the movie version show Irving Berlin performing a classic war song; and also show a production number, “Mandy” that hearkens back, uncomfortably, to the minstrel tradition, with white actors in blackface and, perhaps even more bizarrely, in drag.
Best Band in the Land, examines how popular songs provided emotional solace and patriotic inspiration during World War II. While preparing an original patriotic song, Michael weaves in the history of 1940s big bands, USO shows, V-disks, war bond rallies and the powerful role popular music played in boosting morale.
Putting On the Tailfins, focuses on the 1950s and 1960s, when the Great American Songbook was in competition with new forms like rock and roll, and rhythm and blues. Viewers learn how iconic singers like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Rosemary Clooney kept the Songbook alive by reinventing pop standards of the 1930s and 1940s.