NY Music Review by Joe Regan Jr.
Despite the darkening skies and the strong winds late afternoon May 28, 2014,Raissa Katona Bennett’s free concert event in her Parks Concert Series 2014 took place with excellent sound by Stuart J. Allyn. Raissa’s husband and co producer Dr. Garrett Bennett brought a lot of his warm jackets to the concert for the musicians. There was a full house including children.
It was an extraordinary event, especially because it was free! There was an all star line up: D.C. Anderson, Peggy Eason, Adam Fisher, Nathan Chang, Shana Farr, Jon Weber, series regulars Terese Genecco on drums and percussion, Sean Harkness on guitar, Matt Scharfglass on bass, Bill Zeffiro and Tracy Stark on keyboards as well as Kenneth Gartman, and new series regular Jonathan Saraga on trumpet.
Shana Farr, visibly pregnant, sang glorious versions of “Pure Imagination” and “Whistling in the Dark,” both from her current CD and Saraga‘s work supporting her was thrilling. Raissa joked that she met her at the same party where Shana met her husband Jeffrey Hardy, an actor and an attorney, and after one of Shana’s numbers, Hardy did a tongue twisting “I Went To A Marvelous Party” by Noel Coward.
Jon Weber told us about how Irving Caesar and George Gershwin, inspired by the novelty hit “Hindustan,” wrote (on the subway) the song he played and everyone recognized, “Swanee.”
Gartman and Raissa together sang a glorious “What A Wonderful World” melding into “It’s A Grand Night for Singing” – – which it was. They are working together on a new show “Faux Show,” and if this was evidence of their collaboration, it will be one of the major shows of the season. Genecco’s duet with Raissa was her favorite NYC song, “New York State of Mind.”
Bright new star Nathan Chang sang a song from his new show “Big City Fairy” which has a recurrent chorus belting out “Flying!”
Adam Fisher accompanied many of the artists on his cello and sang something he does with his band Adam and the Argentines.
The extraordinary Peggy Eason has a new CD “Chocolate Diva” and used her operatic voice on two sensational numbers: “Come In From the Rain” and “Defying Gravity.” She appears in her new show “I’ll Show Them All” at Don’t Tell Mama on June 9 and 15.
At one point, Raissa described a special time of night when, if you look down at the bridge behind the stage, there is a perfect horizon of the sun in the sky. David Ingbar, who was in the crowd, wrote a song about it, “Manhattan Henge” which Raissa and Terese sang together beautifully.
Despite the very strong winds which caused yellow buds to flow off the trees in the park, no one left and the crowd was full of performers and songwriters. Additionally, Raissa gets gifts from her sponsors and local merchants, affording many in the audience with winning tickets to receive flower baskets, fruit and cheese baskets, and cds from the performing artists. It’s always a wonderful celebration and Raissa gets incredible Broadway and cabaret stars to participate.
The next Concert is July 30th. Again, it will feature major stars and musicians. The easiest way to get there is to take the 42nd Street crosstown bus and get off at Second Avenue. Walk to 41st Street and up the hill and to the left is the park.