One of the many unsung heroes of songwriting (no pun there), Danny Kortchmar has penned tunes with and for many household names, notably Don Henley (“Dirty Laundry,” “All She Wants to Do Is Dance,” “New York Minute”), Jackson Browne (“Somebody’s Baby”) and JD Souther (“Say You Will”). It’s no accident that Kortchmar’s writing shows up on so many “Best Of” albums. Kortchmar’s had his share of bands himself, but his value as a session man has kept him playing regularly since he backed James Taylor on his breakthrough Sweet Baby James in 1970 and Carole King on Tapestry. He’s subsequently produced recordings for Neil Young, Billy Joel and the Spin Doctors.
At Iridium, Kortchmar’s band, including Saturday Night Live’s drummer Shawn Pelton, bassist Neil Jason (Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel), and with Jonny Rosch (the Blues Brothers) on keyboard and vocals, provided more of the same: semi-famous guys with famous-name chops. Late in the first set, the most high profile player came onboard, fresh from taping Late Night with David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, who brought his infectious joy to the Hammond.
The band ripped through all the aforementioned songs plus “Shaky Town,” “Machine Gun Kelly,” “Lost in the Shuffle” and others. Kortchmar’s easy patter and the band’s obvious enjoyment transmitted itself to an appreciative audience. Rosch’s excellent vocals, slightly reminiscent of Joe Cocker, remain the surprise of the night to this listener. It’s hard to say if this gig was a temporary thing for Kortchmar and friends, but I hope not.