The husband-and-wife team of William Bolcom and Joan Morris have made many memorable recordings during their long partnership, but this live album may be their greatest triumph. Recorded in Ann Arbor, Michigan -- where both of them teach at the University of Michigan -- this collection of cabaret songs both old and new is very appealing. Bolcom is a versatile pianist and his wife an expressive mezzo-soprano; together they complement each other's talents, no matter the content or style of the song. A couple of numbers come from great Broadway composers: Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash's "That's Him" and Stephen Sondheim's "The Miller's Son." There are also some great, rarely heard cabaret songs, including Alec Wilder's "Did You Ever Cross Over to Sneeden's" and "I Don't Remember Christmas," a witty denunciation of a failed relationship. The funny songs are the most enduring, particularly Bolcom's hilarious "Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise," which he says was inspired by a 1973 lunch at a "restaurant filled with twittering refugees from a Helen Hokinson cartoon, munching on chicken coquettes and canned-pear salad with mayonnaise dressing," reminding him of the ladies' musical clubs he performed in front of as a boy. Also of comic interest are the lively "Take Me Back to the Office Again," Dick Hyman's adaptation of poet Willard Espy's "On the Rising Incidence of Jogging," and Bolcom and Morris' country-flavored closer, "Tears at the Happy Hour," on which Bolcom good-naturedly sings along with his wife. A true masterpiece of cabaret.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden