The “variety show” is the latest format that’s coming to all the major clubs like Birdland, Feinstein’s / 54 Below, and the Green Room; as the title suggests, it aggregates a variety of performers, mostly singers (and mostly Broadway-oriented), but also more than a few jazz artists and / or comedians. What distinguishes the variety show idea from the more familiar “open mic” format (of which Jim Caruso’s “Cast Party” at Birdland remains the gold standard) is that all the acts are curated by the host / producer in advance, which still means some pleasant surprises for the audience but, hopefully. no disappointments for anybody. Hosted by comedian and singer Susie Mosher (rhymes with “kosher”), who might be described as the emminently-likable Lesbian love child of Carol Burnett and Jackie Hoffman, “The Line-Up,” holds forth on Tuesdays in the late-ish slot (9:30 PM) at Birdland. It represents the younger and more LGBT-centric side of Birdland; the patrons at The Line-Up often seem like the nieces and nephews of those of us veteran Birdlanders digging vintage bebop upstairs. So far I’ve only been a few times, but I remain highly impressed by the general high quality of the performances, and especially by Ms. Mosher herself, she seems to have launched a vogue for multiple threat artists who, with the considerable help of musical director Brad Simmons, can sing and simultaneously improvise spontaneous comedy routines in verse. Highly recommended.
Tonight’s line-up at the Line-Up promises to be an especially rich and rewarding one, thanks to not one but two brilliant power-duos: the remarkable, highly-harmonious Ladybugs (Martina DaSilva & Vanessa Perea), and the scintillating team of Marta Sanders and Leanne Borghesi, whose duo show remains one of the most entertaining hours I have ever spent at the Birdland.