Dave Frishberg / Joel Chasnoff Live
at the Leventhal Sidman Jewish Community Center
(Newton, MA January 17, 2004)
by Matthew S. Robinson
Following the age-old Vaudevillian adage, “Open with comedy. Close with a song.” Minnesotan jazzman Dave Frishberg and Chicago-by-way-of-Gaza comedian Joel Chasnoff put together an evening of wonderfully enjoyable entertainment.
Chasnoff kicked off the show with a multi-lingual set of fresh routines on such well-used comedic frameworks as raising children (in his case, twin girls) and getting by in a foreign country (or even in a Jewish day school).
With well-timed references to past offerings, Chasnoff kept his set moving almost as much as he did. Combining Steve Martin’s style with tricks learned while in the famed Mask & Wig troupe at U.Penn, Chasnoff kept the Jews and Gentiles laughing and left them all wanting mehr.
When Frishberg took the stage, the uninitiated might have confused him for a college professor. However, once he began dabbing his brow like Louis Armstrong, doffing his sport coat like Lionel Hampton, and playing a bit like both, there was no mistaking just how “hip” he was. In fact, he did not even have to sing the self-aggrandizing them song, “I’m Hip.” Instead, Frishberg got right down to business with “I Can’t Take You Nowhere,” and then launched rapidly into such other favorites as “My Attorney Bernie,” the dreamy composer tribute “Eastwood Lane,” Dan Broadbent’s “Heart’s Desire,” and the admittedly “bad” Cowboy song “Oklahoma Toad.” All along the way, the North’s answer to Mose Allison (or is Mose the Southern Frishberg?) demonstrated his fine sense of rhyme and fun feel for rhythm. From the jazzy tempo of “Zanzibar” to the steady four-beat of “The Hopi Way,” Frishberg mixed it up without becoming too mixed up himself. And though his keys stumbled and his lyrics were mumbled once or twice, the co-author of such classics as “Peel Me a Grape” and (for you younger fans) “I’m Just a Bill” kept it together song after song. Though he may have claimed (musically, of course) to wish to be a “Sideman,” Frishberg deserved the full spotlight tonight!
© 2004, M. S. Robinson, ARR