While pianist-singer-archivist Michael Feinstein has long since ascended to status as “Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” it’s a title earned largely by default. His breezy, winsome style seems better suited to Manilow-esque advertising jingles than Sinatra-style scab picking, but Feinstein’s always had one mother of an Ace in the Hole and here today, ballyhooing his new book The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in 12 Songs, he’s gonna lay the damn thing right out on the table. Feinstein, at age 20, was blessed with the stunning good fortune to be hired by legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin to catalog the lyricist’s vast store of recordings and sheet music. The gig initiated a close alliance through which the kid was able to absorb an absolutely priceless trove of music, lore, insight, history and Lord only knows how much high insider information that’ll probably never be made public. Ira was, after all, one of the most crucial wordsmiths of the Tin Pan Alley era, penning epochal monsters ranging from the hot jive of “Fascinating Rhythm” to the profound agony of “The Man That Got Away,” and thus - it bears repeating - this is very serious cultural stuff. Luckily, Feinstein is as acute a critical thinker as he was an astute student of the marvelously rich Gershwin musical legacy, and the stuff he’ll be sharing here is guaranteed to be certifiably riveting. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Sun., Nov. 4, 4 p.m.; free, book is $45. (310) 659-3110, www.booksoup.com.
Sun., Nov. 4, 4 p.m., 2012