BWW Review: SOPHISTICATED LADIES: 100 YEARS OF ELLA & COMPANY
The National Symphony Orchestra's (NSO) Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke has always put together musical programs that are fun and classy. This Sophisticated Ladies: 100 Years of Ella and Company, which played this Kennedy Center's Concert Hall this past weekend, was no exception.
2017 marks the centennial of one of the greatest singers ever. I'm talking about Ella Fitzgerald. Maestro Reineke and the NSO started things off with a musical trip up to Harlem in the 1920's with Duke Ellington's classic "Take the A Train." There were plenty more musical highlights to come.
Broadway star Capathia Jenkins did not disappoint with her rendition of Gershwin's "Strike up the Band." She then followed that up with another Gershwin standard, "Clap Yo' Hands." Miss Jenkins later bought the house down with a haunting rendition of Gershwin's "Summertime."
Next up we had the extremely talented jazz/soul singer Sy Smith. She had the audience join in on the Cab Calloway standard "Zaz Zuh Zaz." On the more torchy side, Smith knocked "Stormy Weather" into the stratosphere.
Tony Award winner Montego Glover is a force of nature whenever she is on stage so I guess it's no surprise that her rendition of "God Bless the Child" was a definite highlight of the evening.
The program ended on an extremely high and belty note with the female trio's rendition of Arlen and Mercer's "Blues in the Night."
Maestro Reineke always makes it a point to feature instrumental soloists from the mighty NSO in his concerts. In this case, there were so many soloists it would be hard to single a few out, but a few had a chance to really hit. They include saxophonist Chris Vadala, drummer Joe Connell, trumpeter Dave Detweiler, and pianist Tony Nelker. They really helped bring the arrangements of Nelson Riddle and others to effervescent musical life.
There is a reason why the NSO, in my opinion, is one of the two greatest ensembles in the world(Boston Pops being the other). They can play any style of music and it all sounds great.
When you have three superb vocalists, one great orchestra, and a conductor that has so much passion for what he does, the result is sure to be a winning one. Sophisticated Ladies: 100 Years of Ella and Company was definitely that and proved to be a proper tribute to one of the greatest singers of this and any generation.
Running Time: Two hours with one intermission.
Sophisticated Ladies: 100 Years of Ella and Company was a two night only event on March 24 and 25, 2017 at the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall. For upcoming events from the NSO, click here.