David Osborne is the sort of acoustic pianist one might expect to hear playing "My Funny Valentine" in the lobby of a large hotel. He isn't an aggressive, forceful sort of player, and no one will mistake his light, gentle touch for the cerebral pianism of Phineas Newborn Jr., Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, or Hampton Hawes. The Las Vegas resident is capable of playing jazz, but Broadway Nights isn't a jazz outing. This CD is best-described as "instrumental pop with classical overtones," and that doesn't necessarily make it bad -- there is no law stating that every acoustic pianist who comes along has to model himself/herself after Tommy Flanagan or Horace Silver. Broadway Nights is what it is -- an album of light, delicate acoustic arrangements of Broadway show tunes (most of which have become standards in the jazz and pop worlds). Many of Osborne's CDs have some type of theme or concept, and Broadway Nights is no different. This time, the songs that the pianist arranges have a Broadway connection; that is true of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" from Evita and "Memory" from Cats, as well as "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" from My Fair Lady. Osborne also provides a few medleys, one of which is a Fiddler on the Roof medley that includes "Sunrise, Sunset" and "If I Were a Rich Man." Although Stephen Sondheim's work scares some instrumentalists to death, Osborne tackles "Send in the Clowns" and offers a West Side Story medley that includes "Maria," "Somewhere," and "Tonight." Broadway Nights shouldn't be judged by jazz standards because it isn't jazz and doesn't claim to be; it is, however, a pleasant, if unremarkable, album of acoustic background music.
Broadway Nights Review
by Alex Henderson