Moons of Venus-Romancing Marlene Dietrich
Recorded live in the East Village, NYC in January 2005, this album features pianist/composer, Jed Distler, whose own musical talent is a compelling match for Karen's range and versatility. It is the album version of Kohler's long-playing cabaret act, 'The Moons of Venus,' which she created for the Dietrich centenary in 2001 and with which she has toured ever since. Paying homage to the Teutonic femme fatale, Kohler endeavors to evoke rather than to copy the star. 'A woman impersonating another woman cheats us both,' Kohler says. 'Better we leave the impersonation to the men.' Speaking of men, by her own admission Marlene was the product of the many brilliant people with whom she surrounded herself. With patter interspersed between the songs, Kohler paints a picture of Marlene's life through those who knew her best - her directors, co-stars, critics, lovers and admirers - the 'moons' as it were to her Venus. Kohler's work in this genre has been inspired by Marlene from the beginning. And by Friedrich Hollaender, one of the leading lights of Weimar-era Berlin and the composer of many of her songs for stage and screen. This album features her unique interpretations of Dietrich classics, as well as songs from Marlene's touring years with the young Burt Bacharach that one may not readily associate with her. The CD includes a gorgeous fold-out booklet/poster with an original painting 'Goddess' by artist JAMES VOGEL whom Kohler commissioned especially for this project. MUSICIANS/ARRANGEMENTS: With JED DISTLER, piano. Arrangements by Karen Kohler, Jed Distler and Uli Geissendoerfer. REVIEWS: 'With a cool stare, gloved gestures and slightly naughty allusions, Kohler projects a tempestuous Berlin cabaret singer tamed by love...By the time she launched the wartime anthem 'Lili Marlene,' the illusion of Dietrich was complete. ' - L. Peat O'Neill, The Washington Post 'Karen Kohler's live recording of her tribute to the mystique and music of the iconic Dietrich is a winning combination of superb performance and superior live recording. Kohler doesn't attempt to mimic Dietrich but goes more for an evocation instead. And that's one of the elements that makes her performance so successful. Another is her fine, inviting voice, which is as at home on German cabaret/musical hall songs such as 'Ich bin die fesche Lola' and 'Jonny, wenn du Geburtstag hast' as it is on standards ranging from 'Makin' Whoopee' and 'You Go to My Head.' Dietrich would put her stamp of approval on Kohler's lyrical take of the signature 'Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss (Falling in Love Again).' While offering a fine encapsulation of Dietrich's life and career between song selections, Kohler has assembled a top notch program - with Jed Distler's piano-only accompaniment serving Kohler and the songs extremely well - but she says she saved her very favorite things for last, and they turn out to be her very best as well: the first-rate 'The Ruins of Berlin/Black Market' and sensitive and moving 'Lili Marlene.'' - Jeff Rossen, Cabaret Scenes.