“Sue Matsuki’s emergence as a cabaret star!
It’s been awhile since we last saw Sue Matsuki perform – not since she was just making her breakthrough to a new level of popularity as well as establishing her foundation of solid professional showmanship. If anything, her popularity has increased during the intervening years – and for good reason: Matsuki is a more polished and assured performer now and her ability to interpret a lyric is more readily apparent.
The show we just saw drew upon the women who have influenced Matsuki. There were some songs associated with the likes of everyone from Doris Day to Ella Fitzgerald. If those influences continue to hold sway in her new show, she should be a force to reckon with. Consider what she did with a song Reba McIntire sings called, “The Greatest Man;” in Matsuki’s hands it becomes a moving tribute to her step-father. In the same way, the Janis Ian song, “Love is Blind: held a personal poignancy for Matsuki that she delivered with a newfound intimacy and delicacy.
It’s her personality and intelligence on stage that really sell her songs. She’s got want most performers would die for, a likeable presence.”
Barbara & Scott Siegel, Talkin’ Broadway
"On Friday I went into town a bit later than usual, catching just one show, at 9:30 pm, at HELEN'S RESTAURANT, CABARET & PIANO LOUNGE (169 Eighth Avenue, NYC - 212-206-0609 - http://www.helensnyc.com/ ), where Sue Matsuki was celebrating her birthday as well as presenting the final show of her seven-show retrospective of her 10-year collaboration with her musical director Gregory Toroian.
The show was sold out for weeks. It seemed like the entire NYC cabaret community was in attendance. The show got a late start, and continued until nearly 11:15 pm , but every minute was magical! Sue performed 14 songs in this show that were not a part of the repertoire of songs she performed in the first 5 shows.
What a glorious evening! What a glorious voice! What a wonderful creative and talented team! I would be hard pressed to choose a show seen in 2005 that was as thrilling and satisfying as this event."
Stu Hamstra, Cabaret HotlineOnLine
“One thing about Sue Matsuki’s current series of shows is certain: if there were an award for sheer ambition, Sue Matsuki would be a finalist at the very least. Her show’s title refers to a cavalcade of six completely different shows (actually seven, but one was sold-out even before the series began) at the Hideaway Room at Helen’s.
For Matsuki, it’s a retrospective of ten years of collaboration with her music director, arranger, accompanist, Gregory Toroian, and the shows they have created and played together. The charts were there, and from them, the two have selected a hundred numbers to provide the musical repast, a dozen and half or so for each musical meal.
This reviewer caught A Plate of Sweetness, a Sunday toast to the ladies who have inspired Matsuki. There were songs associated with Billie, Peggy, Sarah and Ella (any questions about who?). As well as Shirley Horn, Shirley Bassey and others. Matsuki is a seasoned performer who makes no attempt to mimic her heroines. She’s got a voice that needs no apologies, a longstanding jazz bent, and a style of her own: thoughtful, reflective and fresh. In fact, she leaned in the other direction, and with Toroian’s arrangements, brought some remarkably different readings to her material. In the spirit of her CD, A New Take, the pair offered up some surprise new takes. Toroian is accomplished at the keyboard, and equally accomplished at going his own way.
One way-out effort, Toroian’s and Matsuki’s version of Que Sera, Sera, will have some listeners cheering, and others distracted by the seeming discontinuity between piano and vocalist. Some of the best numbers were Can’t We Be Friends, a blues-y Small Day Tomorrow, and a lovely closer, Here’s to Life.”
Peter Leavy, Cabaret Scenes