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THE NYC SESSIONS

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Volume 1: Liner Notes

  1. Sondheim Unplugged, The NYC Sessions. Sondheim Unplugged was a “bright idea that just popped into my head” in 2010 when the Broadway community, not to mention the whole musical world over, celebrated the 80th Birthday of the great Stephen Sondheim. There were SO many wonderful birthday tributes in New York City, many of which I was fortunate enough to attend. HUGE orchestras were employed, the halls were some of the largest theatrical venues in NYC, and they were all wonderfully lush and fittingly elaborate---it IS, admittedly, incredibly thrilling to hear Sondheim’s music accompanied by all of that brilliant instrumentation. But I worked primarily in New York cabarets and clubs at the time, and I wanted to celebrate Sondheim on this auspicious occasion as well. Furthermore, my unique position made me fortunate enough to know some of the very best Broadway vocalists in town—all of whom, of course (because what performer worth their salt doesn’t?) had a penchant for Sondheim. My tribe was forming...A little background... Like SO many before (and after) me, I grew up obsessed with Stephen Sondheim and his beautiful, smart, daring, funny, intensely brilliant musicals. I would save up my lunch money (who needs lunch when there’s Company? Only the ladies therein, or so say I) and walk to the local record store (yup, RECORD store), and special order the cassettes of Sunday, Sweeney, Woods, Forum, Night Music, West Side Story, Merrily, Gypsy, Pacific Overtures, Anyone Can Whistle...eventually I had ALL of them (Follies in Concert cost me TWO MONTH’s absence from

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  1. the lunch line for that fantastic box set)! I had a cassette player next to my bed. So every night from about age 13—18 (when I left for college in NYC in pursuit of those theaters that had housed those scores), after the whole house had gone to bed, I would slip on my headphones and hang out with Bobby, Mrs. Lovett, Tony, Maria, George, Squeaky Fromme, The Baker’s Wife, Dot, Joanne, George, Franklin Shepard, Desiree, Henrik, Charlotte... Sondheim’s music spoke to me of a life beyond

  2. what I was living, of cleverness and theatre, yes... but also of a completely original way of storytelling; and what profound and poignant stories were being told! I was, quite simply and still am, enraptured. And since the tape recorder automatically changed sides (which I thought was just magic!), at about midnight, the whole show would start again! And furthermore, who hasn’t mowed the lawn, walkman strapped to belt, Into the Woods cassette(yes, cassette) inserted, and pretended they were The Witch cutting that grass down to size? Just me?...I didn’t think so. So imagine my further rapture when Sondheim Unplugged took off in NYC and became a hit! As of this writing, we’ve been running for over ten years to (knock stage) sold out houses from all over the world, many of whom come again and again. The concept is simple—great vocalists from the Broadway and cabaret stages singing their favorite Sondheim tunes accompanied by piano only (we boiled it all down to concentrate on the brilliance of these incredible melodies and lyrics), and me filling the audience in with special tidbits of theatrical lore taken from my careful and ever-evolving research of the original Broadway productions. When COVID-19 reared its ugly head in early 2020 and our little show-that-could went dark for the first time in ten years, myself and the artists represented here grew restless. We missed our audience and hence, decided to bring a few (well, okay... one hundred and twenty) highlights of the past decade to you here, on these recordings. So, during a series of socially-distanced and extremely sanitized recording sessions, we reveled in the brilliance of this timeless material once more, and the excitement of eventually bringing it to you. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t salute and profoundly thank the genius of the American musical, Stephen Sondheim. Thank you, Steve. Your gift and contributions will be contributing to the world for eternity. In our preservation herein of what we’ve been up to this past decade of fun and frolic in smaller NYC venues and beyond, I hope you will be pleased with the hat we’ve made. It is my “wish” that these recordings will stand as testament to the work we did during those very precious ten years, years I will always cherish.

  3. We’re thrilled to be welcomed into your living rooms, motor vehicles, poolside or maybe even the shower. But mostly, perhaps in the headphones of an excited kid, late at night, who dreams of greater things.

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  5. - Phil Geoffrey Bond NYC, NYDecember,2021