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Kevin Cole & Heidi Kettenring

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Fresh off a pair of triumphant concerts at Ravinia, Kevin Cole unveils a new program of American pop classics, What Can You Say in a Love Song (That Hasn't Been Said Before). Cole has carved a reputation as perhaps America's finest Gershwin pianist--at Ravinia he played the Concerto in F as well as the solo-piano version of Rhapsody in Blue, which is the highlight of his superb new Cole Plays Gershwin CD. But here he'll display his talents as a singer, with a creamy baritone honed under the tutelage of veteran Hollywood songwriter and vocal coach Hugh Martin. The emphasis is not on schmaltzy standards but rather on ironic and sometimes melancholy expressions of romance, including the Harold Arlen-Yip Harburg-Ira Gershwin title tune, the Gershwin brothers' "Blah Blah Blah" (a mockery of the "June/moon/spoon" school of songwriting), Hoagy Carmichael's world-weary "I Get Along Without You Very Well," Duke Ellington's mischievous "I'm Beginning to See the Light," and Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane's vaudevillian satire "How Can You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life?" Cole is joined by Heidi Kettenring, whose dramatic expressiveness and skills as both a legit soprano and a Broadway belter have made her one of the most steadily employed leading ladies at local theaters; her selections include "The Boy Next Door," which Cole's mentor Martin penned for Judy Garland. Of special interest will be Cole's accompaniments: he's a brilliant piano arranger, and his intricate keyboard counterpoint to the singing should set a very high standard for this concert. Oh yes--it's free, courtesy of the Chicago Humanities Festival. Tuesday, July 20, 8 PM, Northwestern University, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston; 312-661-1028, ext. 16.

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