Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

For it's one, two, three strikes, you're in.

By: Sep. 15, 2022
Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

The smash-hit new music series SONGBOOK SUNDAYS returned to Dizzy's Club last weekend with a brand-new show featuring some of the most gifted artists in cabaret and concert today. The American Songbook-centric series premiered earlier this year with a Gershwin show led by Karen Ziemba, returned two months later with a Cole Porter show starring Christine Andreas, and this month the patrons of Dizzy's Club were treated to an hour of Duke Ellington with jazz singers La Tanya Hall and Nicolas King. It would be appropriate to say that the shows presented in the Songbook Sundays series just get better and better, but the truth is that Deborah Grace Winer knows how to put together a show, from the ground up, so her Jazz At Lincoln Center-sponsored program was already at top operating level, from day one, and has had no opportunity for improvement because each installment has been the best quality music entertainment available. Indeed, there can be no general element of surprise at a Songbook Sunday show: if a person has seen one installment of the series, then that person knows how good it is really going to be.

Until it comes to the performers themselves.

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Deborah Grace Winer and the fine folks at Jazz At Lincoln Center have created for themselves a winning formula for putting these musical adventures in place: Deb chooses singers from her circle of friends and acquaintances (usually musical theater folk), the Lincoln Center team gathers together a selection of world-class jazz musicians, both camps make certain that their cast features a rising star in the field, and Winer puts on her hostess hat for the two shows (one at Five pm, one at Seven-thirty), introducing the talent and attention-worthy histories about the composer. With so many proficients gathered together and focusing on one project, everyone is able to relax into a strong confidence level for their colleagues and go out there and do their very best which, in the case of IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD, was quite a lot.

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

There's a level of appreciation that occurs when artists understand that their colleagues are creating exemplary art, but it is especially true of musicians, perhaps doubly so of jazz musicians, and at Sunday's performance of In An Ellington Mood, the intimate area of Dizzy's Club allowed the audience more than just up-close exposure to exquisite musical entertainment: the admiration of the artists for each other was as present in the room as The Duke. With Musical Director Richard Cummings conducting from the piano, there existed a synergy between every person to step onto the stage, at all times, complete with playful attitudes and approving glances from one to the other. The fluid and sultry sounds of La Tanya Hall, the precision and syncopation of Nicolas King, and the tidal wave of talent from Ashley Pezzotti are enough to get any music aficionado's heart racing, but when vocalists like this are given the opportunity to play with musicians the like of Kenny Davis (bass), Tony Cintron (drums) and Chris Lewis (tenor sax), it turns the stage into a party venue. Ms. Hall could be seen dancing around the stage during her performance of "Caravan," while Mr. King was in emminent danger of breaking out into a tap dance while performing "I'm Beginning To See The Light" - and Ms. Pezzotti was in an bona fide musical counterpoint with Mr. Lewis that had both musicians laughing at each other. Who doesn't enjoy watching kids on the playground? Well, that's what this was like, only the kids were these fine musicians and the playground was the music staffs of Mr. Ellington. It was party time and it was perfect.

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

One of the things that makes Songbook Sundays such sweet completeness is Deb Winer's orchestration of the program. Like a Mother of the Bride decides with determination which guests will sit where, Ms. Winer maps out every aspect of her series. When presenting Gershwin, Deborah secured a cast that resonated with the sophisticated urbanity of the material, while the Cole Porter night was theatrical and racy, performed by a cast that was dramatic and naughty. To have these three particular singers and these four singular musicians embody the music of Duke Ellington seemed as natural as a deep breath in the middle of Central Park. It seems hardly possible that any other cast would have been better suited to the task of bringing Duke Ellington to life - not just the music but the essence, the history, the significance, the fun. Misses Hall and Pezzotti are women with individual voices and performance styles that complement each other while remaining unique, and yet reminiscent of other notable jazz stylists who made their mark sometime in the past. Like an amalgam of Dakota Staton, Julie London, and Lena Horne, La Tanya Hall stands strong and tall, a mass of interpretive confidence and aloof humanity, while delivering a seductive "Azure" and the burgeoning Ms. Pezzotti remains her own artist and woman while performing "Prelude to a Kiss" and "It Don't Mean A Thing..." in ways that make a person wonder if Ella has been reborn, or if Dame Cleo Laine has entered the room. As for Mr. King, there probably isn't anyone better at this, on the boy's team - the voice is beautiful, the technique is powerful, the interpretive skills are overwhelming, and his love of art is unmistakable. By the time the three singers got to their only group number "Take The A Train" the relationships they had made with each other and all of the band turned the stage into a rave - a Duke Ellington Rave. They simply brought the house down around the ears of the audience, the Dizzy's team, and Deb Winer herself, but at least the ears were all happy and satisfied.

Deborah Grace Winer, Jazz At Lincoln Center, Dizzy's Club, and Songbook Sundays are three for three, and there is no question that the upcoming Irving Berlin show (November 20th) will continue the streak, making Songbook Sundays one of the most talked about and popular series to see in the city of New York. If you haven't been, yet, what are you waiting for?

Information and reservations for SONGBOOK SUNDAYS: ALWAYS, Irving Berlin can be obtained HERE.

THIS is the Dizzy's Club homepage.

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club

Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Review: IN AN ELLINGTON MOOD Creates A Winning Streak For Songbook Sundays at Dizzy's Club Photos by Stephen Mosher.

Visit the Stephen Mosher website HERE.



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