BWW Review: New York Pops Salutes Harlem Renaissance With Montego Glover, Capathia Jenkins and Sy Smith
The Great American Songbook has few friends in New York who treat it as ravishingly well as Steven Reineke and The New York Pops. Their second concert of this season was dedicated to songs of the Harlem Renaissance, particularly those recorded by Billie Holiday, for this centennial year of her birth.
The evening at Carnegie Hall appropriately began with Sam Shoup's arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's "Take The 'A' Train," as that line's non-stop run from 59th Street to 125th Street is the route the highbrows took to get from New York's most famous concert hall to the Harlem's jazz clubs.
The evening's guest vocalists were three divinely sophisticated ladies, Montego Glover, Capathia Jenkins, and Sy Smith, who took turns dazzling the crowd with their hot renditions of beloved standards.
Known for her big belty vocals, Jenkins gave rousing renditions of "Strike Up The Band" and "Clap Yo' Hands" by the Gershwins. Her "Something's Gotta Give" was fun and clubby but what brought down the house was a heart-stopping and emotional "Summertime."
Dripping with charisma, Sy Smith opened with Cab Calloway's "Zaz Zuh Zaz," and the audience enthusiastically participated in the number's call and respond. Elegant turns with "Stormy Weather" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me," were followed by a beautifully intimate "One For My Baby," partnered solely with pianist Lee Musiker.
On loan from her Broadway gig as Fantine in LES MISERABLES, Montego Glover charmed with selections like "You Go To My Head" and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," but her highlight was a warm and embracing "God Bless The Child."
For a grand finale, the three ladies joined forces for a Matt Podd arrangement of "Blues In The Night," where each of their contrasting styles was strikingly featured.