It was a particularly pleasant spring evening in Manhattan as my guests and I entered the intimate Pub Room to join my fellow members of the oldest theatre club in America, The Lambs, for the weekly “Low Jinks” festivities. While it was no surprise to find New York songbird, Ginny Dustin on the bill, it was a very pleasant surprise to hear her stellar rendition of “Losing My Mind.” This was more than just a song selection. This was theatre! One sensed a lifetime of emotion was at the core of this powerful performance. Twice before I had been in the audience of Barbara Cook concerts that featured memorable interpretations of that number, but in many ways Miss Dustin had made the song her very own. It inspired me to revisit two of her CD recordings.
In her album, My Favorite Year, the title tune hints of Dustin softly reflecting on her own life, amid the lush and embracing piano stylings of Dr. Joe Utterback. There is Dustin the storyteller in the wistful, “Nothing Really Happened,” and the heartbreak of the poignant, “Where Do You Start?” Next we hear Dustin the fluent chanteuse in “Les Feuilles Mortes,” (Autumn Leaves), and then the snarling French passion of “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” (No Regrets), featuring brilliant accompanist, Woody Regan, leading the anthem-like charge on the 88. Then there is the Dustin full of variations, soaring one minute, and coming in for a soft landing the next with, “My Funny Valentine.”
In Dustin’s Two For the Road, album, the “Losing My Mind” rendition is fine, but somehow not the equal of being in the same room with her when she performs it with such passion. There is luminous seduction in her sensuous, “La Vie en Rose,” and haunting melancholy in “Tin Angel.” Her “My Foolish Heart,” is full of longing, but as sometimes happens on her recordings, final consonants occasionally get a bit too much emphasis, as in the ‘t’ in the word “heart.” But that is a minor matter when we consider the rhythmic mystery and jazzy Dr. Joe piano work in “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps.” Speaking of Dr. Joe, he is definitely Dustin’s co-star in the pleasing “For All We Know,” that closes the album. Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for a chance to see Ginny in person. You can’t capture that warmth and talent on a CD!