Bobby Short defines American cabaret. He's been around for so long -- effortlessly doing what others strive to do but cannot -- that it's difficult to imagine the genre without him. Short doesn't have the world's most mellifluous voice, nor is he a piano virtuoso, but no one puts over a song like him. His enthusiasm and pure style allow him to mine the gold from each tune he touches. Incontrovertible proof can be found in this excellent collection, which finds New York's finest interpreting the work of such inimitable composers as Gershwin, Cole Porter
, Vernon Duke
, and other classic songwriters, on to more contemporary names like Randy Newman and Stephen Sondheim
. There are plenty of familiar standards here, but it's Short's penchant for offbeat material like Bessie Smith's "Gimme a Pigfoot (and a Bottle of Beer)," the Marx Brothers' "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady," and such wonderful obscurities as "And Her Mother Came Too," " Wake Up Chillun Wake Up!," and "Don't Mention Love to Me" that makes him so special.