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Nancy Anderson at Birdland: Ten Cents a Dance

Nancy Anderson is no mere actress. She is no mere singer. Nancy Anderson is a living, breathing time machine, taking her audiences back to the days when songs and singers were pure class and style. Her debut album, Ten Cents A Dance, celebrates the great jazz standards of the 20's and 30's (indeed, the most recent song on the album is from 1940), and Ms. Anderson recreates the vocal stylings of that bygone era. To celebrate the album's release, Ms. Anderson offered a concert of songs from it on August 14th at Birdland, and as soon as she began to sing, the packed crowd was transported to a different time, a time when jazz brightened spirits dampened by the Depression, and Rodgers, Hart, and Gershwin were the newest household names.

With the Ross Patterson Little Big Band recreating the old-fashioned Big Band sound, Ms. Anderson performed such classics as "My Romance," "True Blue Lou," "But Not For Me" and the intense title song, both of which she performed in Scott Siegel's 1930 edition of Broadway by the Year. Also memorable was a medley of Rodgers and Hart songs that beautifully displayed their growth as a songwriting team from 1935 to 1940. The joy in the uptempo songs was infectious, and Ms. Anderson frequently jumped energetically about the stage during instrumental solos. By contrast, she had tears in her voice when she performed an unusually intense "My Romance," emphasizing the longing in the song's lyrics.

Between songs, Ms. Anderson spoke happily about her love of classic jazz, and how she trained her voice to imitate the singers she heard on the old LPs she collected, beginning with Disney's Snow White. Her research has certainly paid off: few singers today can so expertly recreate the intricacies and emotion of the early jazz age, making the music as fresh and exciting today as it was seventy-five years ago.

Nancy Anderson has been a hidden treasure in the theatre community for years now, using her skills to conjure the first half of the 20th century in shows like Jolson, Kiss Me Kate, and many of the Broadway by the Year concerts. With Ten Cents a Dance, she is now the jazz world's treasure as well. May there be many more albums and many more concerts at venues like Birdland to bring new generations to these wonderful songs.

Photo by Mark Rupp

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From This Author Jena Tesse Fox

Jena Tesse Fox is a lifelong theatre addict who has worked as an actress, a singer, a playwright, a director, a lyricist, a librettist, and (read more...)