Ann Hampton Callaway | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Ann Hampton Callaway

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When Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret opened its doors in 1998, cabaret in Chicago seemed to be, if not dying, at least on life support, and I feared the club wouldn't survive. I'm delighted to say I was wrong: Davenport's is celebrating its fifth anniversary next week with an engagement by the superb singer-songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway. She's a perfect choice for the occasion. Davenport's success is due in large part to a canny booking strategy that alternates local artists with high-profile, high-priced national talent. Callaway is both those things: a product of Chicago's North Shore (her dad is broadcast veteran John Callaway), she moved in 1979 to New York, where she's now based (and where she starred on Broadway in the 2000 musical Swing!). Despite being best known (and best paid) for writing and performing the theme song for TV's The Nanny, Callaway is a serious jazz vocalist with an impressive instrument (crystalline high notes, a full-bodied midrange, and a deep, breathy low end), impeccable taste (her 2002 album Signature pays homage to such influences as Anita O'Day, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Annie Ross), and a masterful technique put in the service of maximum emotional expressiveness. Wednesday and Thursday, November 19 and 20, 8 PM, Friday, November 21, 8 and 10:30 PM, Saturday, November 22, 8 PM, and Sunday, November 23, 6 and 8 PM, Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret, 1383 N. Milwaukee; 773-278-1830.

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