When a performer is told by his doctor “you can’t sing—or even talk” hours before a gig, it’s a community miracle that pulls together a thoroughly professional entertainment. Such was the case on July 12, when Johnny Rodgers, two days away from opening The Yellowstone Jazz Festival, was told he should not perform at Iridium as planned. Fortunately for the audience, his good friend, Terese Genecco, a regular headliner at the club, agreed to fill in. Roses were passed along with the mantle by a grateful Rodgers. Members of The Johnny Rodgers Band joined members Genecco’s Little Big Band to make a full, rich, swinging sound pushing out the walls and making feet tap. Guest vocalist, Shaynee Rainbolt shared the evening.
Opening with the finger snapping “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” (Charles Strouse/Lee Adams) often in her sets, Genecco’s full frontal delivery equaled the vigorous impact of her talented horn section. She bounces, bends, struts and sings with every molecule. The too rarely performed, 1953 Mel Torme song, “Swingin’ on the Moon” follows. Are you tired of Summer nights and noons?/Do you yawn when they speak of sunny Spain?/Could you live without ever seeing old Rangoon?/Then come with me and let’s go swingin’ on the moon. ‘Can’t find lyrics like that nowadays. Justin Flynn’s tenor sax is sweet and mellow.
Introducing “Anyplace I Hang My Hat is Home” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer), Genecco refers to the famous rendition by one of her heroes, Sammy Davis Jr. “Since there aren’t any lesbian, white, Sammy Davis Jr. performers out there, I thought I’d put my hat in the ring.” She expands into the song, clearly having a good time. Her sense of rhythm is impeccable, her 60s era brio is smooth. Once again I’m struck by the clean, confident, bigness of the voice coming out of her diminutive frame.
Guest vocalist, MAC winner, Shaynee Rainbolt, offers such an up tempo version of “I Only Have Eyes for You” (Harry Warren/Al Dubin), speed eviscerates any lyric impact. “Her second song, “You and the Night and the Music” (Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz–Spanish lyrics by Johnny Camacho) is terrific. Smokey and tropical with an undulating, sticks n’brushes arrangement and lovely horn solos, the number evokes pungent blossoms, black and white movies, and moonlight. The very cool, ironic, “In These Shoes” (Kirsty MacColl/Pete Glenister/William Correa/Melvin Lastie) is performed as a mambo. Rainbolt has a flair for this kind of music. She changes jazzy keys with precision and fluency. Her mezzo? voice is inviting and a little evocatively blue. A whole evening of this would be grand.
Back to her “Rat Pack roots,” Genecco returns with “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” (Jimmy Van Heusen/Sammy Kahn). “…a Dean Martin song and always, afterwards, associated with men.” Nelson Riddle’s “killer” arrangement almost conjures the ghost of Sinatra with whom Genecco could’ve done one fabulous duet. “Drunk With Love,” (Stoughton “Bruz” Fletcher III, 1935) a tune made famous by Frances Faye and the title of Genecco’s CD, is subtle, contemplative writing given its full due. This is a singer as capable of putting over a lyric as of nailing groove minded music. Bobby Sharp’s “Unchain My Heart” closes the evening with two fisted R&B. Ted Kooshian’s gentle jackhammer hands have had a workout.
Johnny, they did you proud.
Photo credit: Stephen Sorokoff
Terese Genecco and her Little Big Band with members of the Johnny Rodgers Band
Terese Genecco, vocals
Guest Artist, Shaynee Rainbolt, vocals
Ted Kooshian, piano
Justin Flynn, tenor sax
Kenny Lavender, trumpet
Nate Mayland, trombone
From The Little Big Band
Brian Glassman, bass
Dan Gross, drums
Joe Ravo, guitar
From The Johnny Rodgers Band
The Iridium Jazz Club
1650 Broadway at 51st St.
Terese Genecco and her Little Big Band hold forth
the last Tuesday of every month 7 p.m. & 9 p.m.