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BWW Review: MR. HARRIS AND MR. EDWARDS Are Off to a Promising Start at Don't Tell Mama

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Harris and Edwards Blend Jazz and Vaudeville in a Charming Evening

BWW Review: MR. HARRIS AND MR. EDWARDS Are Off to a Promising Start at Don't Tell Mama

In the 1950's Martin and Lewis were the must-see nightclub act of the decade. They were a study in opposites. Dean Martin was the suave, cool as a cucumber crooner who charmed the ladies, drank with the fellas, and got all the straight lines. Jerry Lewis was, of course, Jerry Lewis, a kinetic fireball of comedic energy who was equally goofy with ladies and fellas and got all the punchlines. They weren't the only act to use this formula. Abbott and Costello did it before them and many such acts followed in their wake including Burns and Allen, The Smothers Brothers, Rowan and Martin, Sonny and Cher, and Fry and Laurie, to mention just a few.

Tonight, in their debut show at Don't Tell Mama, Quentin Harris and Bryce Edwards added their own names to the list of performing teams who use opposition to their advantage. They bill themselves simply as MR. HARRIS AND Mr. Edwards. If this sounds like a throwback to vaudeville days, it's not entirely an accident. Harris and Edwards owe much to those old-time show business acts and most of their musical material is drawn from the Great American Songbook and from jazz standards. Quentin Harris knows a great deal about jazz and plays piano in the style of Oscar Peterson and many of the other jazz greats. Bryce Harris is a charmingly off-kilter one-man band, who plays ukulele, banjo, and the world's most cumbersome looking kazoo. His style is bombastic and more than a little Jolson-esque. Both men are young, still in school, in fact, and so their show is a little rough around the edges as they find their footing. But they have the bones of a really interesting and unique act.

They have excellent taste in music. Together they sang numbers like "Style," the Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin number from Robin and the Seven Hoods, Schwartz & Dietz's "Alone Together," and "Save the Bones for Henry Jones," a great novelty song by Nat King Cole and Johnny Mercer.

Mr. Harris gave us great beautiful jazz classics such as "I Wish I Knew" by Harry Warren, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald's "Under a Blanket of Blue, Sarah Vaughan's "A Sinner Kissed An Angel," and Anthony Newley's great ballad "What Kind of Fool Am I," which Harris used to celebrate one of his heroes, Sammy Davis, Jr.

For his part, Mr. Edwards gave us tunes from a slightly earlier era like Louis Armstrong's "Home," the Al Jolson classic "Avalon," and a medley of Sophie Tucker tunes, "Some of These Days" and "After You've Gone." Edwards has a firm grasp on this style of 1920's vaudeville material.

BWW Review: MR. HARRIS AND MR. EDWARDS Are Off to a Promising Start at Don't Tell Mama

Some highlights included a routine in the middle of the show in which they poured tea and did some pretty authentic semi-minstrel lazzi. It was impressive given the age of these performers not only to choose this kind of material but to so convincingly nail the style of it. They were also particularly good singing the Judy Garland/Barbra Streisand arrangement of "Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again." It was dedicated to their close friendship and to the times we are coming out of. They were also great following this up with a lovely rendition of "Me and My Shadow."

Special mention should be made of Renee Guerrero, who played piano on three numbers. She also happens to be Quentin Harris' mom. MR. HARRIS AND Mr. Edwards is a great up-and-coming act. I'll be interested to see where they are in a couple of years when they've played a few more dates and really polished things up. I hope, somewhere down the road, they will consider hiring a bass player. It would really tie everything up with a ribbon. Somewhere Martin and Lewis are smiling.

BWW Review: MR. HARRIS AND MR. EDWARDS Are Off to a Promising Start at Don't Tell Mama

For more acts at Don't Tell Mama, visit donttellmamanyc.com


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