I’ll Follow the Sun

Reviewed by Alix Cohen for Cabaret Scenes

 Wrangling the songs of John Lennon and  Paul McCartney into a cohesive cabaret show is a daunting prospect.  Which songs, which stories, how does one create worthy accompaniment  with just a few musicians? Marissa Mulder has conquered the first two of  these issues; MD/pianist Jon Weber, ably aided and abetted by Mike  Rosengarten and Ritt Henn (guitar, bass, back-up vocals) conquered the  third.

Mulder is invested. When she  heard her parents’ Beatles records, the songs landed differently than  they did to those of us who grew up during the era. I’ll Follow the Sun brings unexpected freshness to iconic material. The vocalist helps us  reconsider lyrics and sentiments long taken for granted. Three musicians  playing deeply textured arrangements sound like at least an eight-piece  band.

We learn how John and Paul met and  connected at a garden festival in 1957. They were respectively 16 and  15. Paul apparently admired John’s charisma. Anecdotes are few and well  placed, often including quotes. (George Harrison joined the band in  1958; Ringo Starr not until 1962.)

A few numbers in, Mulder jumps to the  group’s 1968 visit to India where they studied under Maharishi Mahesh  Yogi. (One song from the interim might have helped the continuity.) The  trip yielded some 48 new songs.  John cited “Across the Universe” as his  best lyric because “the words stand alone. You could pick it up on a  piece of paper and read it as a poem.” With palms on her thighs, the  vocalist immerses herself in a cloud of meditative visions: “Jai Guru  Deva, Om/Nothing’s gonna change my worldshe sings, making the lyric pristine and incantory.

The Songs of John Lennon & Paul McCartney

 “I’m So Tired” is tied to John’s  long-distance communication with Yoko Ono. Beginning with only a  resonant bass, the song arrives weighted, deeply breathed. Mulder  stretches as if the air around her grows soporific; defined meter shifts  are beautifully handled.  

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I’ll Follow the Sun:

Penny Lane

Jon Weber on piano, Ritt Henn on bass, Mike Rosengarten on guitar live at Feinstein's 54 Below 

Across The Universe

Jon Weber on piano, Ritt Henn on bass and Mike Rosengarten on guitar. Live at Feinstein's 54