Tierney Sutton fans showed up at Birdland on May 25, only to be told that the popular jazz vocalist was ill. Her band would be performing with another singer, Anaïs Reno. Ticket buyers were given the choice of a refund. We decided to stay. We’re glad we did.
Reno was a familiar name, thanks to reviews and stories by Alix Cohen. The young vocalist has appeared on Woman Around Town several times. In one story, Alix posed questions to Anaïs, who won the 2019 Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Elow Songbook Competition, whose aim is to encourage teenagers to study and perform the Great American Songbook. (Read Alix’s story.) Anaïs’s Birdland performance was proof that she has learned that lesson well.
Any performer, whether a vocalist, actor, or dancer, called to step in for a star, has to have moments of anxiety. Substituting for Sutton, who has such a strong fan base, had to be intimidating. Anaïs made the stage and the night her own. In between songs, she shared some interesting facts about herself, including that she just completed her first year at SUNY Purchase where she’s studying jazz voice, She is grateful for the support she’s received from Birdland’s Gianni Valenti and considers the club a home. After only one night to rehearse, Anaïs was comfortable and confident working with Sutton’s band, including pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Trey Henry, and drummer Ray Brinker.
Anaïs confessed she “loves” Duke Ellington, and so included several of his standards, including “Mood Indigo,” “Autumn Leaves” (in both French and English), and “Caravan.” No one had to admonish the audience to remain quiet during her performance. They seemed mesmerized that one so young could possess a voice and presence far beyond her years. This is one vocalist to watch.
It seems that the American Song Book is in very good hands indeed.
For more information go to Anaïs Reno’s website.
On Amazon, purchase her album, Lonesome Thing – Anaïs Reno Sings Ellington and Strayhorn.