By Steven Jamail (Composer and MD)
Last night, I had the privilege of seeing a new Kander and Ebb review that the musical theater students of the Professional Performing Arts School put on. At nearly two hours, I was nervous to see only a handful of songs I was familiar with and a program dominated by tunes from The Rink, Flora the Red Menace and Zorba.
When the lights came up, I had one and only one thought. John Kander’s over 80, right? With no disrespect to Mr. Sondheim and the much-deserved festivities surrounding his big birthday last year, where the hell was the theater naming and ticker tape parade down 5th ave for John Kander?!
Look, I’m not saying that his work is unappreciated or that he’s lacking in accolades or award show hardware - but I do think my generation is a little clueless as to the depth of his genius. Like Sondheim, he can musicalize the macabre with great effect but with an accessibility that doesn’t abandon the art. That’s hard. REAL hard.
If you’ve never heard the music from Flora, Zorba or even the Visit – do yourself a favor and get crackin’. Mr. Kander was blessed with a brilliant and equal writing partner but it doesn’t mean his work can’t speak on it’s own. Take a listen to this number from Flora. Not a shabby Broadway debut – for him, Mr. Ebb or Miss Minnelli.
Steven Jamail is a composer and music director in New York City www.stevenjamail.com