It was a definite "A" list night Saturday at the Jazz Bakery in Culver City. Songwriter Alan Bergman's entertaining stroll through a colorful garden of And-Then-I-Wrote reminiscences drew everyone from director Sydney Pollack to musician Dave Grusin and TV writer-producer Gary David Goldberg.
The celebrity turnout was not accidental. Bergman, who writes with his wife, Marilyn, has been one of the busiest Hollywood lyricists of the last few decades, working with such composers as Johnny Mandel, Marvin Hamlisch and Michel LeGrand. His presentation, however, was low-keyed and relaxed. If anything, his horn- rimmed glasses, cardigan jacket, striped shirt and easy-going smile gave Bergman the appearance of an amiable English teacher.
The best thing about hearing lyricists sing their own words, of course, is the opportunity to get in touch with the real essence of a song. Bergman's readings of "Nice 'n' Easy," "Windmills of Your Mind" "Where Do You Start" and "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life" offered precisely that.
Not a trained singer, he nonetheless sang with a crisply rhythmic feeling, a warm tone and-- especially on "Little Boy Lost" and the often-misunderstood "The Way We Were"--a lyricism that brought surprisingly new perspective to familiar material.
Singer Ruth Price, who produced the show, further enhanced the program with her versions of two lesser-known, but unjustifiably neglected Bergman numbers, "Make Me No Rainbows" and the delightful "Mozart In the Dark." Pianist Bill Cunliffe and bassist Dave Carpenter provided sturdy, unobtrusive accompaniment.