Lena Horne's Return Sets Off Sparks At Carnegie Hall

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

THERE'S no need to recount the career or the accomplishments of Lena Horne, one of the most beautiful stars who ever walked the planet. Her accomplishments in film, theater, and music will go down in history. And so will her comeback concert at Carnegie Hall last weekend, her first full-length show since her critically acclaimed Broadway and touring stint in ``The Lady and Her Music,'' back in 1981.

Horne electrified a sellout crowd. Her voice still sounds crystalline, her gossamer phrasing and mastery of technique is still in place, and so is her gift for finding not just one but several levels of emotion within each song. She gave a sublime performance.

She seemed slightly overwhelmed at her tumultuous reception, admitting, ``At this late date, it's a surprise.''

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But her performance was far from shaky. From her growls to her melodic caresses, she seized every number and gave it her all. She varied her style from song to song, giving Harold Arlen's normally upbeat ``I've Got the World on a String'' a soft, delicate reading, then performing ``Lady Is a Tramp'' with a swaggering ferocity.

On a number like ``Just One of Those Things,'' she would begin with a quiet intensity, and by the end she would be in full vamp mode. Other songs, like ``Old Friend,'' were delivered in a jaunty conversational style. ``Yesterday, When I Was Young'' began in a quiet elegiac fashion and ended with a life-affirming defiance that resulted in a midshow standing ovation.

At the end, pointing out that she was going into overtime, she gave the audience a choice between two songs for the finale, one of which happened to be ``Stormy Weather.'' The result was obvious, and she sang her signature song, which she admitted to having sung a thousand times, with an intensity and freshness that was astonishing. After that, there was nothing else to do but go home. Boz Scaggs at New York's Town Hall

CALIFORNIA soul crooner Boz Scaggs has been taking it easy of late, having put out only one album in the last 14 years, and apparently spending a lot of time at his restaurant-club in San Francisco. But he's back, having released a fine new album ``Some Change'' (Virgin), and is currently on tour.

There was a time during the 1970s when one couldn't turn on the radio without encountering one of his slew of hits: ``We're All Alone,'' ``Lowdown,'' ``Hey, Miss Sun,'' ``Breakdown Dead Ahead,'' and, of course, ``Lido Shuffle.'' Music styles changed, however, and his brand of mellow blues-rock lost its commercial cachet.

In concert recently, Scaggs seemed in fine form, and his distinctive voice, with its high pitch and slide-guitar suppleness, has lost none of its ability to thrill. He's the kind of vocalist who can lend even undistinguished material a fine sheen, but his new album features many strongly melodic numbers, several with a rueful tone of regret, that rank with his strongest work. In his show, songs like ``Sierra'' proved particularly haunting, and on other numbers the singer used his finely honed falsetto to piercing effect.

The new uptempo material, such as the rocker ``You Got My Letter,'' proved less effective, but the old hits received urgent treatments that proved reinvigorating. The 30ish audience, for whom this music provided a soundtrack to high school, gave the songs a warm reception.

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