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Caught in a Babs romance

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Color her Barbra.

A platinum-selling jazz vocalist will perform hits and deep cuts from the Barbra Streisand songbook at Kingsborough Community College on May 17. Expect a selection of Babs’ more swinging tunes, as well as jazzy renditions of mega-hits such as “People” and “Starting Here, Starting Now.” The singer said she will pay homage to Streisand and the writers who penned the tunes by imparting her own style on the work.

“I’m not about to do something that’s an imitation of Barbra,” said Ann Hampton Callaway, adding that she was initially reluctant to perform a tribute to “a living legend.”

Callaway will present a stripped-down Streisand, with a standard jazz trio — piano, bass, and drum kit — replacing the lush orchestral arrangements that normally back Babs. Some songs will see an even greater transformation. Callaway and her band rearranged “Starting Here, Starting Now,” taking it out of standard time and playing it as a waltz instead, which gives the song “a joyous quality,” Callaway said.

The new presentation gets to the core of Streisand’s music, Callaway said.

“I like a raw Barbra best of all,” she said. “To me she’s always a closeted jazz singer.”

Babs, East Flatbush’s most famous daughter, last came to town in 2012 for a Barclays-Center-christening blowout, her first hometown concert since childhood.

In addition to hearing re-tuned selections from the septuagenarian songstress’ catalog, concert-goers can expect something completely fresh — Callaway will sit down at the piano and improvise an accompaniment while devising lyrics based on audience suggestions, she said.

“The audience will be making up a Brooklyn love song,” she said. “It will be 100 percent improv.”

“Ann Hampton Callaway Presents The Barbra Streisand Songbook” at Kingsborough Community College [2001 Oriental Blvd. near Oxford Street in Manhattan Beach, (718) 368–5596, www.onstageatkingsborough.org]. May 17 at 8 pm. $30.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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