Bobby Short's week-long sellout at Charlie's a few months ago apparently prompted the management to seek out other class acts working the cabaret circuit. Tony Martin, who appears with a quartet at the club through Sunday, certainly fills the bill.
Martin has nurtured a relatively small but loyal audience over the past 40 years. His frequent tours with his wife, Cyd Charisse, have kept him active, and his voice, though not quite the resonant baritone it once was, remains in remarkably good shape.
Like Short, Martin oozes charm. But unlike him, he prefers conventional, highly romanticized arrangements. "Stranger in Paradise" and "There's No Tomorrow," set against pianist Don Edwards' cascading flights, were shamelessly sentimental and almost required the singer to get down on bended knee.
Still, Matin proved himself capable of transcending simple nostalgia. He built his set masterfully from a breezy "C'est Magnifique" to a reflective medley of his Hollywood years to a rousing salute of "New York, New York," complete with hat and cane. He also took a few good-natured pokes at himself (his real name is Alvin) as well as some of the familiar songs that have followed him throughout the years.