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Lee Cadena: Press


And for another cabaret singer's songs, come under the moon and under the radar and under the spell of some loving moods with ...


An evocative slow-burning, slow-dancing romantic mood with a Tex-Mex flavor comes via Lee Cadena's Lover's Moon. The debut album of this Texas-born singer/ New York City transplant with a mellow croon is very enjoyable. An ingratiating version of Marc Shaiman and Ramsey McLean's "A Wink and a Smile" begins the CD in a relaxed, take-off-your-shoes manner and then things get more seductive and/or tender. Lee's intimate style of singing is made even more vulnerable when his vibrato comes into play, as in "Unchained Melody."

Some numbers completely or partially in Spanish add to the atmosphere. They may be familiar since some were pop hits with English words. Some may recall "You Belong To My Heart" ("Solamente Una Vez") was sung in films by Ezio Pinza and Roy Rogers and was a chart hit for Bing Crosby, though I know it more from a Disney cartoon, The Three Caballeros. "Manhã de Carnaval" by Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfá is sung with its sorrowful English lyric (by Carl Sigman), but Lee sings the melody line so tenderly and with lack of melodrama that its beauty wins out over the lonely despair of the words.

"I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love" (by Peter Allen/ Carole Bayer Sager, employed in Broadway's The Boy from Oz) shows a more cabaret style impassioned singing. Lee gets out from the Lover's Moonlight there into the cold light of day. But having it placed as the final track prevents it from breaking the mood and ends the album with an invigorating sense of strength rather than a whimper or lover's sigh.

Federico Chavez plays piano on the bittersweet title track written by Glenn Frey of The Eagles; otherwise the only musician is master mood maker, keyboardist-guitarist Dan McLoughlin who also produced and engineered the album.

With an easygoing, smooth sound, the CD has a relaxed sense of sultriness without a sleaze factor. The layered background vocals are also Lee's voice. This is a great late-night album, and what I especially like about it is that the calmness never becomes too droopy; there's a sincerity in the legato singing. Well programmed, the tracks flow into each other, and there's subtle variety in style and mood. Sometimes it borders on getting too mushy, meaning both dripping with sentiment and muddier accompaniment in the bed of sound.

There is expressed gratitude "to the composers of these beautiful songs" in the liner notes, but it's an oversight not to have their names found anywhere. What is found everywhere is straight-from (and to)-the-heart vocalizing.

We'll be taking off next Thursday for Thanksgiving, but there are some extra things to be grateful for above. Coming up will be looks at more interesting albums, including Carols for a Cure, this year's Christmas album sung by stars of Broadway shows. The strike on Broadway closing most shows has hurt awareness of the release of this annual pleasure, a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, but you can find out about it and buy it and other CDs at their website.

- Rob Lester
LEE CADENA IN HOMETOWN CONCERT AT SPC SEPT. 20 AT 7:30 P.M. Singer, Actor, Recording Artist’s Sabor a Mi concert is highlight of SPC’s Hispanic Heritage MonthSAN ANTONIO (Sept. 19, 2008) --- Mexican-American Singer, Actor and Recording Artist Lee Cadena performs a hometown version of his Sabor a Mi concert tour for San Antonio fans Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the SPC Watson Fine Arts Center Auditorium on 1801 Martin Luther King Drive. His concert is free of charge and open to the public.
Achievements Lee helps the College celebrate this year include being on The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine’s 2008 Top 50 list of community and junior colleges awarding the most degrees to Hispanic students, and the magazine’s Top 20 list of community and junior colleges with Hispanic faculty members. His rehearsal at SPC this week was open to the public and he spoke with students about the business of show business as part of his commitment to education and St. Philip’s College.
“I’m proud,” said Cadena. “When people come to my concerts they give me their time. They sit and give me an hour and a half of their lives. I have to be grateful and have fun,” Cadena said, “It is an amazing feeling.”
Lee presents a collection of songs that have their origins and influences from Spanish and Latin music, which later became hits with many American audiences. Several of these songs have become hits with new lyrics in English. Many of the songs performed Sept. 20 will be sung in both languages, truly celebrating the diversity of Hispanic culture and Lee’s talents. This concert is also a tribute to the many artists who have inspired Lee in his musical career. For information contact Felipa Lopez at (210) 921-4831.
About St. Philip’s: St. Philip’s College was founded in 1898 by Bishop James Steptoe Johnston of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church of the West Texas Diocese. Today, St. Philip’s is a multi-campus institution of the Alamo Community Colleges and serves a semester enrollment of nearly 10,000 credit and more than 5,000 continuing education students. St. Philip’s is a Historically Black College and Hispanic Serving Institution and is the only college in the nation that carries this dual designation. As “A Point of Pride in the Community,” St. Philip’s is among the oldest and most diverse community colleges in the United States.
Lee Cadena

Where were you born?
San Antonio, TX

What was your first cabaret experience?
I went to an open mic night and was booked by Judi Jordan and Billy Shepard to have a cabaret show. They liked that way I told what the song meant to me. Then the night of the show came and I had my set and I talked with the audience, I had no idea what I was doing was something called cabaret. Songs set to a theme and somehow a story is told.

Name a performer you’d drop everything to see:
Linda Ronstadt

What’s the last book you read?
Suze Orman "The Courage to be Rich"

What’s your favorite restaurant in NYC?
Pinto, they serve Thai food in the West Village on Christopher Street.

What are you watching on TV?
I rarely have time to sit and watch TV but when I do anything on the History Channel.

Have a guilty or pop-culture pleasure?
CARBS, I just love them, give me hot bread any day and I will skip an entire meal just to have a nice dinner roll.

Finish this sentence: “If I wasn’t in cabaret, I’d be (a)…”
someone with a lot of stories to tell and no one to hear them. That is what cabaret allows me to do, tell a story and sing at the same time. It can't get any better than that.

What’s your favorite song to perform?
I actually have two they are "Quizas,Quizas,Quizas" or some know it as "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" and the other song is "Solamente Una Vez, You Belong to My Heart".

What’s one thing you would improve about the current state of cabaret?
I would love to see these great rooms stay alive. It broke my heart to see Roses Turn close. I got my start there along with many celebrities. I would like to see if there could some how be away to get the many tourist and locals to start visiting these places again. I feel we need to find away how to increase the "walk-in business".