Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and the Gershwins may have written their masterpieces decades before rock ‘n’ roll and Motown came along, but to entertainer Mitch Kahn, all are cornerstones of music history in America.
The singer and pianist will perform at Cunningham Park in a concert called “Mitch Kahn Celebrates the American Songbook,” a night of music to showcase songs from the musical construct that encompasses the most popular works penned by twentieth century American composers.
Joined by Elysa Sunshine on bass, Jim Mola on drums, and Rob Taube on guitar, Kahn will offer the audience a wide collection of American classics.
“What we’re going to be doing at the concert is mixing a lot of stuff — that’s why I gave the show a very broad title,” Kahn explained. “We’re going to probably start with songs from the ’30s and go right through to the ’90s.” Last year, Kahn performed songs that had won an Academy Award, but this year he deliberately chose a more general theme to appeal to everyone in the audience.
Although Kahn performs songs made famous by other performers, he does not try to copy the originals.
“Everything we do is our own, our own interpretation, our own version,” Kahn said. “We may include original riffs or intros from the songs, but speaking for myself, I do a lot of material that Sinatra covered but I don’t try to do a Sinatra sound-alike, and that goes for quite a bit of what we do.”
Each member of the four-piece band is a singer, and each member will choose 10 songs to perform at the two-hour show.
Though the ensemble will have a set list, they are flexible and will be ready to respond to the audience’s reception.
“Sometimes people actually get up and dance, so if we’ve got people dancing we might decide spur of the moment to segue into something else,” Kahn said, explaining that the mood of the concert all depends on the specific audience for the day.
“It’s going to be a feel-good evening, and there will be something for everybody — whatever style or genre of music you particularly like. We’ll be covering many bases, so we’re out to give everyone a good time.”
Mitch Kahn Celebrates the American Songbook
When: Thursday, July 18, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Where: Cunningham Park, 196th Street and Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows