Known as the man who reopened the famed Oak Room at New York's Algonquin Hotel in 1981 after it had been dark for more than 40 years, singer/pianist Steve Ross has offered for his first CD a program of 20 songs by one of America's greatest and most consummate composers of popular music, Cole Porter. Ross hasn't taken the easy way out. He has selected not only familiar Porter material for this agenda, but several lesser-known Porter melodies also. Porter, despite all his talent, wasn't above creating a bit of fluff to throw off both his detractors and supporters, such as "I'm Throwing a Ball Tonight," a name-dropping tune if there was ever one. But fluff or great melody, all the music was immediately recognizable as Porter's. Ross is completely comfortable with the material. Accompanying himself on piano, with Brian Cassier on bass, he is occasionally joined by a cello and, for "When the Summer Moon Comes Along," Scott Kuney's ukelele and banjo. Ross' interpretations of Porter's material demonstrate how many different ways the material can be sung. His rather flippant version of "Down in the Depths" is quite dissimilar from the dramatic interpretation of this tune by Johnny Hartman. But most of all, what makes this album so good as a Porter vehicle is Ross singing in that same high-pitched, carefree voice that Porter had. The result is that you get about as close to the original product as one can get. Most of the tunes are from stage productions, which tended to be more playful in lieu of the film. But whatever the source, this is more than an hour of music from one of America's great tunesmiths well presented. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan