Chicago Tribune - Cabaret Here to Stay

The music-making couple has been married for more than 20 years but a few days ago Anne Pringle, the singer/wife, was compelled to take a trip back some 30 years to a club that no longer exists. Mark Burnell, the pianist/husband, listened as she said, "I don't regret a thing." Read More...

Chicago Tribune - Anne Burnell Channels Julie London in 'Cry Me a River'

Acclaimed cabaret artist Anne Burnell will channel a singer known for her sultry, sensual singing style when she presents "Cry Me a River: A Julie London Tribute" at the Skokie Theatre on Feb. 24. Anne's husband Mark Burnell is music director.

Anne noted that the concert was inspired by a trumpet player she worked with who compared her to London because, "I like to hang out with the band and be one of the guys. That kind of surprised me because she was such a glamorous pinup person. It endeared her to me." Read More...

Chicago Jazz Magazine

The Difference Between Jazz and Theater Style

Piano Playing with Mark Burnell


In the summer of 2014 I attended an extraordinary event at the Auditorium Theater.

It was a double bill with Judy Roberts Trio featuring Frank D’Rone (his last performance)

and Denise Tomasello backed up by a trio led by Beckie Menzie. I was astounded by the

vast differences in style and sound produced by both of these eminent pianists using

the same piano in the same venue on the same night. 

I asked pianist/vocalist Mark Burnell, one of the rare pianists who is a master of both

jazz and cabaret theater-style piano playing, to clarify this stark contrast in style and



I’ve known Burnell for years, and his very talented wife, vocalist Anne Burnell, even longer. I first became aware of him when he arrived in Chicago in the late ‘80s and was appearing at various venues in the Rush Street area where I was competing with him for gigs. I confess to being a bit intimidated by this highly trained, credentialed (MFA from Carnegie Mellon), good-looking singing pianist who also had an interesting vocal group, Cooler by the Lake. But as is my practice, when I perceive somebody to possess more talent or skill than me I seek them out as allies and mentors rather than bad-mouthing them and wishing they would go away. I’ve taken some lessons in choral directing from Mark too, and he was one of the first people I consulted when I decided to get a master’s degree in music liturgy. (He’s been playing gospel music every Sunday morning at Gorham United Methodist Church in Washington Park for nearly 20 years).


Burnell was one of the first people I interviewed when this column began three years ago. And because of his versatility, I thought a return visit, based on the difference between jazz and theater-style piano playing, would be interesting:


… I’ve accompanied countless singers for over 40 years, in every musical style imaginable. My background is jazz, so when I played for vocalists, I used mostly jazz idioms. From my home in Pittsburgh, and all the stops on the way to Chicago, these singers greatly expanded my repertoire of songs and styles. The term ‘cabaret’ gradually became more common, and performances were more often shows, rather than gigs.


In 1998, I was one of the founding members of the not-for-profit organization Chicago Cabaret Professionals, inspired by the Manhattan Association of Cabaret in New York. I started working as a music director for cabaret shows. In 2000, my wife Anne and I were chosen to attend the Eugene O’Neill Theater Cabaret Symposium in Connecticut, and I learned from the great pianists Shelly Markham and Tex Arnold, who played for the legendary Andrea Marcovicci and Margaret Whiting.


In comparing ‘cabaret’ versus ‘club’ singers, the cabaret artists are much more concerned with the show aspect of the performance, concentrating on theme, patter and especially the lyrics of the songs. The audience pays to have that intimate experience with the artist, and listens closely. The average club singer is more accustomed to a loose song structure, pianists who improvise heavily with lots of solos, and a crowd who may or may not be paying strict attention. The singers might not even have met the pianist, because jazz pianists often send subs! The average cabaret singer will rehearse long hours with one pianist, and expect them to play the songs the same way in performance.


When I play for most club singers, I like improvising and experimenting with tempos and

rhythm feels. In a cabaret show, piano solos are fewer and shorter with more emphasis on

the lyric, so I respect the fact that every single word must be clearly heard and understood

by the audience. I pay much more attention to the lyric, and will punctuate certain words

and phrases with chords, fills, or effects that help to bring out the story. In cases where a

cabaret singer is acting or ‘speak singing,’ I may double the melody, or voice many of the

chords with the melody on top. The experience level of the vocalist determines whether I

can use polyrhythmic variations or extended complex harmonies, being careful that my

fills don’t obscure the precious lyrics. …”

One of the great things about Mark is how he uses his skill and instincts as a jazz improviser

to adapt to any situation, even one that contains no jazz at all. Back in the late ‘90s I needed

a partner for a last-minute dueling piano casino gig. Mark fearlessly stepped up. With no

rehearsal time and no book, he flawlessly followed the classic rock, country and Motown

tunes I called and was an excellent straight man for the ribald humor that is a part of this



I asked him to explain how he pulled this off, and as usual, he was modest, stressing

experience rather than talent:


“ … I believe that playing as many different styles of music as possible helps to develop my
overall skills. I play several cabaret shows every year at Davenport’s in Wicker Park and Skokie Theatre. My jazz trio has been at the Tortoise Club for the last four years, and I also play monthly solo gigs at The Signature Room, host open mics, and perform with my talented spouse, Anne.”


He didn’t mention that he also teaches piano, voice and choral directing from his studio in Wicker Park, not far from Davenport’s, where his magic is regularly on display.

​Mick Archer teaches voice/piano at the Old Town School of Folk Music and is a columnist for Chicago Jazz Magazine.

CFM Intermezzo, May/June 2015


Chicago Jazz Magazine

Anne Burnell – Vocals

Henry Johnson – Guitar
Mark Burnell – Piano
Mike Logan – Keyboards, piano
Corey Wilkes – Trumpet
Eric Schneider – Saxophone
Joshua Ramos – Bass
Charles Heath III – Drums

A marvelously misty ambiance permeates vocalist Anne Burnell’s third release, the unabashedly romantic, Summer Days and Dreamy Nights. Burnell interprets 13 pop-oriented tunes and standards with her signature graceful charm as her fluid silken voice navigates the various scales with remarkable agility and delightful phrasing.

Her unadorned artistry is on full display on the dramatic “A Time For Love.” Accompanied only by producer and arranger Henry Johnson’s shimmering resonant guitar lines Burnell’s evocative enunciation of lyrics drips with heady poetry.

Even as lush orchestral sounds envelope and buoy her singing, as on “Dreamsville,” her expressive intonation stands out with its warm, rich glow. Pianist Mike Logan’s evocative piano chords and Johnson’s undulating strings handsomely frame Burnell’s passionate articulation.

Burnell, who is a deft at switching styles, showcases her versatility on a number of slightly edgier tracks. She brings a suave sensuality and a bold swagger to the cabaret-ish “Don’t Ever Leave Me.” Elsewhere, on the swinging “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” she joins the frontline with hard-edged trumpeter Corey Wilkes and erudite saxophonist Eric Schneider with surprising facility. The superlative rhythm duo of drummer Charles Heath III and bassist Joshua Ramos rumbles in the background, occasionally breaking through with thrilling flourishes. 

On the sunny Latin ballad “Moment to Moment” Burnell’s effervescent song floats over Logan’s crystalline phrases. Meanwhile on the breezy Bossa “I Got Los In His Arms” her vocalizing shimmies to her husband Mark Burnell’s cascading notes and Johnson’s silvery reverberations. 

This engaging album aptly closes with the exuberant “Goin’ Out of My Head.” Her supple, honeyed vocals flow along the undulating instrumental refrains of the band with splendid, smooth sophistication. Burnell maintains her singularity by avoiding being pigeonholed. She proves herself, once more, adept at a variety of genres to all of which she brings a jazz musician sensibility. 

Chicago Tribune

The tempo of Chicago jazz does not slow for the holidays.

Among the highlights:

Anne Burnell - The veteran Chicago singer mines the narrow zone where cabaret and jazz overlap, often with her husband and long-time collaborator Mark Burnell. For this outing, though, she'll celebrate a different partnership: her work with the superb Chicago guitarist Henry Johnson, who produced and arranged her newest album, "Summer Days & Dreamy Nights."

Johnson plays on the recording, as well, the musicians covering a broad swath of repertoire, from Burnell originals ("San Juan") to standards ("Close to You") to less familiar tunes (Henry Mancini's "Dreamsville"). "Summer Days & Dreamy Nights" marks an important step for Burnell, one enriched by Johnson's jazz sensibility. 5 and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $10-$15; 312-642-6805 or

Howard Reich- ChicagoTribune

Cabaret Scenes

CD Review

Anne Burnell

Summer Days & Dreamy Nights

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes


Is there something in the water? Maybe Anne Burnell has imbibed a magic potion that makes her voice better supported, elastic, and more alive than ever. That is clear on her latest CD, Summer Days & Dreamy Nights. Burnell is singing higher than before, which fleshes out her sultry sound with some lacy feminine tones. This is most clear on Irving Berlin’s “I Got Lost in His Arms,” which is both sensual and sentimental all at once while honoring Burnell’s jazz sensibilities.

Husband Mark Burnell’s piano solo on this track is lush and lovely. There are fun Latin rhythms in the Burnells’ s original “San Juan.” Their “Something I Can Feel” has a compelling lyric that challenges us to take the risk to find our individual bliss. It’s sophisticated, meaningful lyric might be better communicated with simpler arranging.

Kudos also to producer/arranger Henry Johnson who added grand instrumental interludes throughout, particularly with his own rich guitar riffs as well as those of trumpeter Corey Wilkes featured in Burnell’s bouncy rendition of “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” The closing track, “Goin’ Out of My Head,” features supple vocal riffing and an energetic, rhythmic thrum.

Summer Days & Dreamy Nights 

Anne’s latest, the gloriously diverse and whimsically titled Summer Days & Dreamy Nights, celebrates not a single composer but a singular friendship between the singer/songwriter and renowned Windy City based jazz guitarist Henry Johnson, who produced, arranged and plays electric and acoustic throughout the 13 track set.

   Jonathan Widran- Jazziz Magazine

WGN radio



Wonderfully eclectic, ….you guys are great together.”

-Rick Kogan, WGN Radio AM720 Chicago                                   



The Chicago Tribune

"Anne and Mark Burnell proved you don't need a piano when you sing a cappella this well."

Cabaret Scenes


by Jeff Rossen


Songs by Harold Arlen

(Spectrum Music)


February 15 marked the 100th anniversary of Harold Arlen’s birth.  The man who crafted such diverse melodies as the whimsical Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead and dreamy Over the Rainbow for the film The Wizard of Oz as well as the scorching Blues in the Night and mournful The Man That Got Away created over 600 songs during a career that spanned over 50 years. 


In celebration of his centennial, Anne Burnell (formerly performing as Anne Pringle prior to the release of this album) gathers 12 of his blues oriented works that demonstrate well just how many forms “the Blues” can take-brassy, melancholic, defiant, overwhelming.  And the assortment allows Burnell to showcase her versatility as well, from the hip-popping swagger of the title track and steadfast defiance of I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues to the crushing pain in The Man That Got Away and infectiously optimistic take on Over the Rainbow. 


Heavily spiced with with a jazz flavor in Bob Ojeda’s sensational arrangements, the musical backing Burnell receives on this set is superb, especially when it comes to the stylings of violinist Edgar Gabriel, whose near duet with Burnell during a jazz waltz setting of Over the Rainbow has this track repeated three times on the first listen before moving on to the rest of the selections. 


Burnell’s engaging performance style instantly grabs the ear, and she does here what she does so well, not so much perform her musical choices as sharing them with us.  Arlen himself would be pleased with this marvelous tribute-celebration.


E JAZZ NEWS by Karl Stober
Harold Arlen within six decades made music happen in any way, shape, or form, he was the best at what he did. His impact on the industry is one which may never be duplicated, so the tributes flow like the notes from his mind. Amid the many attempts there happens to be a select few that stand out and make one take a second look, Anne Pringle Burnell is one of those. With a voice that can manipulate style, tone , and composition she can trigger magic to reinvent sound when it comes to music. For this gift, I highly recommend with the utmost confidence “Blues In The Night” Songs by Harold Arlen, however done with style by one very special Ms. Burnell.

In conjunction with Bob Ojeda, Count Basie Band veteran, Ms. Burnell has in many ways paid fine tribute to one of music’s best. Her signature seductive blues style has captured the distinct panache that goes with an Arlen composition. As husband Mark Burnell joins her along with other highly gifted members the crisp and precise arrangements just expel themselves from the disc.

Chicago’s finest yet most delicate, Ms. Burnell just liquidates emotions felt from hits such as Over the Rainbow, Paris is a Lonely Town, Blues in the Night, and Stormy Weather. Suffice to state that all efforts on this project deserve across the board billing, I can only say that it’s a project for varied tastes. This jewel box has a cut for every mood, any time, for anyone!

The real key to this project is selection and delivery. Ms. Burnell and Bob Ojeda took real energies and time to put a collection together that in summary embraced the works of Arlen. For some its not enough but to cram six decades in one project is a fools fantasy. Ms. Burnell delivers the right mix of selection with her sultry performance that hit’s the right mood with each selection. Each effort she performs, showcases her range of feel and quality of tone. An excellent tribute team effort by all.

Key in on two cuts if you will. “The Man that Got Away” exhibits her sense of feel through her vocals. A gift lost with many of jazz’s vocalists today. To express a moment that the lyrics were meant to carry out is an art. Ms. Burnell realizes that. “ A Women’s Prerogative” is a showcase of Mark and Anne creating a moment with true feel . Upbeat and focused allowing for the stylishness to unearth itself as it was meant to be. Very cool.

“Blues In The Night” and Ms. Burnell is a marriage of two talents that needed to join hands. Her voice fit’s the style and with arranger Bob Ojeda ‘s direction the end result was enchanting. To be frank it’s a keeper!

Karl Stober is a national freelance music journalist/interviewer.


WBEZ 91.5 FM National Public Radio

If there’s ever to be another Jackie Cain and Roy Krall -- it is to be in the person’s of Anne and Mark Burnell”

        -Larry Smith, WBEZ 91.5fm

            National Public Radio


Volume VI, Issue 4

by Jan Wallman
"Duets & Duels" - Anne Pringle & Mark Burnell
Judy's Chelsea (169 Eighth Avenue; 212-929-5410)
Reviewed 9/7/00 at 8:30pm

Pringle and Burnell returned to Judy's Chelsea for a two night gig just a year after their triumph there in last year's show "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves" (reviewed here Volume V, Issue 1) having spent most of that intervening time in their usual Chicago performing spaces and recording their just released debut CD "The Little Things We Do Together" for Spectrum Records.

In this current offering, the husband and wife singing duo perform some highlights from thier previous show, notably their spectacular version of Kurt Weill's "Mack The Knife" done auf Deutsche by singer/pianist Mark Burnell with a spoken English obbligate by Anne Pringle. New this season and on the recording were a remarkably clever medley of "42nd Street", "Puttin' on the Ritz" and "Lounging at the Waldorf" and an outstanding song which they wrote together called "Another Chorus of the Blues". Although they are known for their renditions of standards and pop hits made new by Mark Burnell's ingenious arrangements, this sample of their original work proves that the duo can do a lot more than interpret other songwriters' music. I hope to hear more of the songs they write in a subsequent engagement. Since they are based in Chicago where they perform steadily, we may not get to hear them in person in New York or a while, but you can enjoy their CD.

They are just so right together musically and so relaxed and real in their informal interaction with each other that you feel by the end of the show that you have come to know them. The enjoyment they project in entertaining their audiences is palpable. Everyone has a good time. Look for their return to Judy's Chelsea and, in the meantime, buy the CD "The Little Things We Do Together" at, Tower Records and elsewhere.


Vol. V, No. 11
November 2000

More experienced are Anne Pringle and Mark Burnell, a husband and wife team based in Chicago who came to Judy's Chelsea with their show, Duets and Duels, following a week as Fellows at the Cabaret Symposium. Anne, singing in a delicious velvet voice, and Mark as accompanist and duet partner, blended smoothly in a broad range of standards combined with occasional light-hearted novelties. Among the best numbers: Anne's moving rendition of their own song, Another Chorus of the Blues. When he's not at the piano, Mark moves center stage with Anne and doubles as string bass -- not on string bass but, with just voice and musicianship, providing melodious and rhythmic back up. Admittedly still exploring their style, Anne and Mark are worth watching.
        -- Peter Haas

Cabaret Hotline

Cabaret Hotline Online


Mark Burnell & Anne Pringle, "Our Songs"
Davenport's Piano Bar and Cabaret, October 6, 2002, 9:00pm

It is always a treat to hear songwriters perform their own material, and this month at Davenport's Piano Bar and Cabaret we get a double treat - the wonderful cabaret/jazz duo Mark Burnell and Anne Pringle performing their own original music.

Mr. Burnell and Ms. Pringle's show, "Our Songs," is a collection of eighteen songs that they have written together of with other collaborators over the years, strung together with stories of how each song came to be. From the hopeful and positive opening number, "Something I Can Feel" (Pringle), to the blues-tinged "Another Chorus of the Blues" (Pringle/Burnell), this was one great evening of song that left me wondering, "Where have THESE songs been hiding?" Along the way I discovered many musical gems --Anne Pringle's ode to acting, "Peppermint Tea", and Mark Burnell's take on the Chicago expression "Cooler by the Lake" being two of the many, many highlights of the show.

With complex melodies and thoughtful lyrics, Burnell and Pringle are certainly two gifted songwriters, This is one show that should not be missed. They will be performing "Our Songs" at Davenport's every Sunday in October at 9:00pm. Reservations are encouraged.

Davenports's Piano Bar and Cabaret, 1383 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 773-278-1830





Cabaret Hotline Online


Mark Burnell and Anne Pringle, "Tales of Our Travels" 

Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret, Chicago 

October 19, 2000  

"This was a fun show, and it was clear that Pringle and Burnell had a good time doing it.  Their patter was humorous, clear, and worked at linking the assortment of songs quite well. More importantly, it never one sounded stilted or overly staged. Hearing these tales of their travels, I am now positive that Mr. Burnell and Ms. Pringle are the poster children for traveler's aid!" 

by Todd Shuman