While one outfit was doing Mostly Mozart last night at the Kennedy Center, that urbane, ineffable, incomparable duo of mezzo Joan Morris and pianist William Bolcom was doing mostly Kern and Gershwin and Irving Berlin and others at the Smithsonian. Noel Coward may be gone. But all is not lost as long as this pair is around. By comparison with them -- the sinuous Morris and the deft Bolcom -- Bobby Short is almost pedantic.
They even did some Herman Hupfeld. And if that sounds esoteric to you, be reminded that he was responsible for a little number in a 1931 movie flop. It was recycled about a decade later in a film called "Casablanca" and the name of the song is "As Time Goes By." Morris' version was beguiling.
It was one of two Bogart songs on the program. The other was Carmichael's "To Have and Have Not."
Throughout the evening, the range of the classic American song -- as well as its quality -- was amply demonstrated.
The first half was all Kern, because it's his 100th birthday. There was the patter of "Cleopattera" but there was also, at the end of the first segment, one of the most rapturous of them all, "All the Things You Are," ravishingly phrased by Morris.
Perhaps the high point came when Morris and Bolcom repeated the song with which -- after formidable performances by the likes of James Levine and Ned Rorem -- they ended the memorial concert last year for their late friend, pianist Paul Jacobs. It was Gershwin's last song, "Our Love Is Here to Stay." And the way they do it is unforgettable.