John Wallowitch & Bertram Ross | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

John Wallowitch & Bertram Ross 


Pianist John Wallowitch and his partner, singer Bertram Ross, love to rummage through the garbage cans of Tin Pan Alley; there they reclaim discarded rarities like a couple of Depression-era socialites on a scavenger hunt. This slightly mad Manhattan duo, which returns to Chicago almost exactly a year after its last engagement, augments the old oddities with Wallowitch's own eccentrically hilarious originals (favored by the likes of Dixie Carter and Blossom Dearie). These shows will feature little-remembered Ethel Merman material from Cole Porter's DuBarry Was a Lady, a sampling of early unknown Gershwin, and "The Tenement Symphony," a classically cornball example of musical populism extolling the multicultural makeup of working-class New York, taken from the 1941 Marx Brothers movie The Big Store. Wallowitch's originals, meanwhile, include several works on gay themes, including "Mary's Bar" (about an elderly fellow remembering the man that got away back in 1946) and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which Wallowitch describes as "a quiet diatribe" on current politics. Wallowitch's singing is supple and conversational, and he has a light touch on the ivories; front man Ross, a onetime Martha Graham dancer, punctuates his old-fashioned crooning with odd little bits of hand choreography. As a team, these campy, whimsical gents evoke a quickly fading era of cabaret. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 PM, and next Friday and Saturday, July 24 and 25, 9 and 11 PM, Toulouse Cognac Bar, 2140 N. Lincoln Park West; 773-665-9071. ALBERT WILLIAMS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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