American jazz vocalist Dakota Staton (1930-2007) appeared live and recorded (for Capitol Records) primarily in the 1950s and 1960s. Thirty albums were produced, including a highly touted collaboration with George Shearing called Dynamic! and Dakota at Storyville Over time, gospel and blues sounds predominated.
Jazz singer Marty Elkins swings easy, dips into blues, and crosses over to jazz influenced American Songbook. “Give Me the Simple Life” (Rube Blume/Harry Ruby) is bouncy and bright. Elkins tends to vocally come in from the top and often after the beat. She employs melisma (a group of notes sung to one syllable of text) as organically as breathing. MD Janice Friedman’s piano is here terpsichorean. Eyes close as Friedman’s head tilts back. Shoulders shift.
Also songbook crossovers are Shearing’s arrangement of “I Hear Music” (Burton Lane/Frank Loesser), accompanied by whooshing brushes (Voctor Lesczak) and featuring neat scat conversation with keyboard; Sammy Cahn/Saul Chapin/Hy Zaret’s “Dedicated to You”, unspooling long-lined and mellow; and “I’ll Take Romance” (Ben Oakland/Oscar Hammerstein II), waltzing with the ease of a lazy hammock.
Marty Elkins and Janice Friedman
Bill Sanford/Bill Medley’s “Fat Daddy”, the title of Elkin’s most recent CD (my review is on Cabaret Scenes), is, she tells us, about a bartender at The Frolic Show Bar in Detroit. (A little more story would add color here.) Knees bend with a wiggle down as the vocalist sways and nods. Yoshi Waki’s bass sidles in followed by piano. “Fat Daddy, bring it ho, ho, home to me,” Elkins sings.
“Staton’s biggest hit, “The Late, Late Show” (Dave Cavanaugh/Roy Alfred) arrives with finger snaps. “She (Staton) was kind of the liaison between jazz and R & B,” we’re told. “We kiss, ooo /Kiss ooo, all night long…” the “oos” appealingly come in like subdued squeals, as if the singer is blushing. “Sex is a Misdemeanor…the more you miss, the meaner you get” ( Walter Bishop) almost has a calypso sound one wishes would go further. Friedman seems to be scatting under hear breath, much like Jay Leonhart is wont to do.
Bluesy songs are highlights. “Ain’t No Use” (Leroy Kirkland/Sidney J. Wyche) arrives with long lined lyric and staccato piano. Rhythm is burlesque, a sensual bump n’grind. “Confessin’ the Blues” (Jay McShann/ Walter Brown) opens with stealth, tiptoeing on the light cymbal. “I don’t wahhhhnn nobody else-oh yeah” Elkins sing. Honky-tonk piano erupts hard, smooth, and sure. “Moonray” (Arthur Quenzer/Artie Shaw/ Paul Madison) emerges rippling swing punctuated by scat. The syllable “ray” goes up like a water spout adding frisson.
My sole caveat with this talented vocalist is she doesn’t show enough emotion – playfulness, distress, and heat seem at low ebb. Easily fixed.
Opening photos: Marty Elkins (Yoshi Waki in background)
Again, I recommend this cozy club with great sight lines, good service, and friendly atmosphere.
Marty Elkins Sings Dakota Staton
MD/Piano- Janice Friedman
Bass-Yoshi Waki; Drums- Victor Lesczak
178 Second Ave at 11th Street