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A Review of Women of Note by David Finkle

Women of Various Notes

Joan Crowe doesn’t just throw her programs together. She backs them with a good deal of thought as well as with, in the case of the new “Women of Note,” a good deal of research. Just the title of that show—which closed at Judy’s Chelsea only days before the much lamented room itself did—indicates the bright ideas she gets when she puts on her thinking cap. Those notions extend to, maybe even start with, titles like “As the Crowe Flies” and “The Devil in Miss Joan.”

So far, so good. And even better in “Women of Note,” where she mixed the chosen songs and the patter with less comic effects than she’s expended in the past. This time, she decided to draw attention to women songwriters—with as it turns out, about half of the numbers she means to include in a longer version of the project. Casting glances backwards over the decades, she included Bessie Smith’s “Need a Little Sugar in my Bowl,” Dorothy Fields “The Way You Look Tonight” (music by Jerome Kern, of course), Peggy Lee’s now non-P.C. “Manana” (with lyrics by the chantress’ one time bubby, David Barbour), Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game,” Janis Ian’s bold and mesmerizing “Tattoo,” and a ‘60’s medley during which many words by the fertile Ellie Greenwich were heard. Crowe, who doesn’t think of herself as a tunesmith, nevertheless introed “A Petite Southern Woman,” a perky ditty she’d penned in tribute to her mom-in-law.

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