Assuming the musical personality of Hoagy Carmichael yesterday at the Corcoran, Dave Frishberg began with the composer's first song, "Riverboat Shuffle," a traditional jazz anthem complete with breaks and stop-time, and concluded with the consummate ballad, "Stardust." In between were the whistled choruses of "Memphis in June," the bouncy swing of "The Old Music Master," the abstruse lyrics of "Baltimore Oriole" and the irony of "Hong Kong Blues."
For the program's second half Frishberg reeled off a dozen of his own, a selection of such variety, wit and craft of language as to establish him among the most creative songwriters of today.
Seated at the piano, his shoulders slightly undulating and his right foot occasionally leaving the floor like a skater's, Frishberg rhymed recklessly in "Another Song About Paris," sang a number made up entirely of the names of baseball heroes, and heightened the wry urbanity of "Saratoga Hunch" with pianistic spaces and suspensions of tempo. "I'm Hip" was a glossary of jive talk, "Z's" a tongue-in-cheek ode to neuroticism -- with a nervous piano technique to match -- and "Our Love Rolls On" a confident love poem. Frishberg's bag is clearly versatility.