By Sandi Durell
A marriage made in jazz heaven has come about with the pairing of the iconic Ann Hampton Callaway and Birdland Jazz Club! Not to be cliché but . . . like two peas in a pod, this expressive jazz vocalist and historic club are a match made for each other. As the title of the show But Beautiful implies, Ann is offering up a bouquet of songs wrapped in the beauty of some of our greatest American composers.
It’s easy to “(Let’s) Get Lost” in McHugh/Loesser’s song, enhanced by the driving bass beat as it segues into a swing rhythm, and the onset of hearing Ann’s well-developed scat technique that repeats throughout this remarkable evening of song.
A soul-revealing rendition of Kern/Hammerstein II’s “The Folks Who Live on the Hill” left a tear in many an eye (including mine), as the evening progressed with a can-you-top-this emotional roller coaster ride as the warm and perfect vocals of AHC subtlety ebbed and flowed, along with scat reminiscent of a myriad of instruments.
Some of the greatest songs in our American songbook cleverly veered with dramatic turns and meaning as a longing-wistful “Never Let Me Go” (Livingston/Evans), a swinging “Come Rain or Come Shine” (Arlen/Mercer) and a reflective “Here’s That Rainy Day” (Van Heusen/Burke) were among the knockouts. The title “But Beautiful” (Van Heusen/Burke), as a wistful bossa, was just that, and “Just One of Those Things” (by one of our greatest lyricists Cole Porter) was offered up loose and hot.
The magic fingers of the recently returned Ted Rosenthal on piano, together with Martin Wind on bass and Tim Horner on drums were the icing on this delectable cake.
After her Diva Blessing, Ms. Callaway wailed in a rockin’ interpretation on“Blue Moon” (Rodgers/Hart) to close a soul-fulfilling evening of jazz. Think smoky, sexy piano bar in the wee small hours, and that’s only a small part of the experience.
In the audience was cheering sister Liz Callaway.
Ann Hampton Callaway appears at Birdland thru May 7, 8:30 pm and 11 pm. – 315 West 44 St. NYC, 212 581-3080
Photos: Maryann Lopinto