Dionne Warwick

An Evening with Dionne Warwick

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There is no way around it: Dionne Warwick's voice isn't what it used to be. In her early sixties when she performed at the Syracuse Jazz Festival in 2003, she's slipped into a lower register and taken on some crags; the sweetness and lightness that were hallmarks of her popular recordings have been replaced by a throatier, less supple voice. That's not necessarily a criticism -- with few exceptions, age does that to a singer, and although Warwick is no longer the young lady who placed a long string of hits on the pop and R&B charts beginning in the '60s and not letting up until the late '80s (her last smash, "That's What Friends Are For," an AIDS benefit single that featured a number of guests, hit number one in 1985), she's learned how to use that time-worn voice to her advantage. The jazz-fest audience understood that and supported her at this show -- just as such great jazz vocalists as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan became a different kind of singer in their later years, Warwick wears her experience well on these live renditions of most of her hits. And they're nearly all here too, with the exception of 1968's "(Theme From) Valley of the Dolls" and her 1974 collaboration with the Spinners, "Then Came You." From her first chart hit, 1962's "Don't Make Me Over," to the aforementioned "That's What Friends Are For," Warwick gives her audience what they came for: "Walk On By," "I Say a Little Prayer," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" and the rest -- even "Heartbreaker," her 1982 Bee Gees-penned, Barry Gibb-produced Top Ten single. The arrangements are spirited and faithful to the originals, and as long as one isn't expecting carbon copies of the jukebox hits, Warwick's renditions are quite endearing. In addition to all of her own hits written by her favorite song suppliers, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Warwick throws in two more by the pair: the Carpenters' "Close to You" and "What the World Needs Now," fortunately leaving at home the rappers who joined her on her 1998 recording of that song, giving Warwick her final chart record to date.

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