Michael Feinstein – not rock but the GAS

The American mainstream specialist plays four UK dates this month - in Gateshead, Manchester, Bristol and London

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Michael Feinstein

Whilst in the US the names Michael Feinstein and Great American Songbook are interchangeable in the UK the name Michael Feinstein barely rates a blip on the radar, which may explain why Mr. Feinstein is embarking on a brief (essentially a long weekend between Friday 22 and Monday 25 October, taking in Gateshead, Manchester, Bristol and London) tour of the UK.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1956, Michael Jay Feinstein was playing the piano by ear at the age of five and remained in Columbus until, aged 20, he moved to Los Angeles. On paper anyone born in 1956 would have come of age under the influence of rock and roll and want no part of anything prior to that but there’s an exception to every rule and in the case of this rule the exception was Feinstein.

He arrived in LA in 1976 and the following year he was introduced to Ira Gershwin, who promptly hired him to catalogue George Gershwin’s unpublished songs, a task that occupied him for the next six years and opened many doors for him.

By the mid-80s he had established himself as a pianist and singer specialising in The Great American Songbook and performing in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Buckingham Palace, the White House, the Hollywood Bowl, etc.

He now has in excess of 30 CDs under his belt including albums celebrating such alumni of The Great American Songbook as Irving Berlin, Jule Styne, Hugh Martin, Burton Lane, Ray Evans, Jay Livingston, Andre Previn, Jerry Herman, and, of course, George and Ira Gershwin. He has amassed a total of five Grammys but arguably the achievement of which he is most proud is The Great American Songbook Foundation, housed in Carmel, Indiana, which he founded in 2008.

These brief four-concert tours appear to be contagious; in 2019 I previewed a similar tour by Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester and subsequently attended one of their four concerts, just as, on Monday, October 25, I will be at Cadogan Hall watching and listening to Michael Feinstein sing and play. If Feinstein is even half as good as Raabe I will be one happy bunny.