Pompie’s Place – A Pop-Up Blues Club with Pizzazz

Like a floating crap game or the back alley dive Pompie’s Place purports to be, the club makes its third appearance in the eminently comfortable back room at Pangea. As introduced by its dapper, unapologetic host, the joint welcomes con men, bootleggers, big house veterans, suckers, molls and dames, the low with mazuma and the high with moxie. It’s all Blues all the time here. Fasten your seat belts and raise a glass – hooch is imported from Atlantic City.

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Lezlie Harrison

Proud and sultry, Lezlie Harrison opens with “St. Louis Blues” (W.C. Handy). Potent as bottom of the barrel moonshine, the song goes down smooth, but kicks. Lyrics are squeezed from the bottom of the ‘tube.’ “Kansas City” …hee ah cum…     (Jerry Lieber/ Mike Stoller) is a boogie woogie with swinging sax. Harrison’s voice shimmies, then careens off the walls. At one point, the musicians play three-handed, crossing over with infectious glee. Time is clapped, knees rise and fall, thighs are patted. The powerful attitude warns: prepare for me!

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Tanya Holt

Tanya Holt takes the stage wearing lament like a heavy coat, periodically bucking forward in slo-mo as if life’s hit her in the gut. “Ill Wind” (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) is an exhausted plea, resigned, yet still entreating. Sustained vibrato nests at the wellspring of Holt’s throat like a controlled moan. “When I Get Low I Get High” (Chick Webb/Ella Fitzgerald) is smoky, ravaged, and focused. Every word is pristine, every ohahohoh like butter. You gotta do what you gotta do…she sings opening her eyes wide. Ehud Asherie’s piano erupts in pungent ragtime. Ken Peplowski’s clarinet seems to be having an illicitly good time.

Louis Armstrong/Jelly Roll Morton’s “Wildman Blues” and Duke Ellington’s “Creole Love Call” are delivered as instrumentals. The first is sassy, slinky, and very cool with high clarinet that oozes its way under one’s skin. The second conjures choreography by Alvin Ailey. Piano has classical underpinnings.

musicians

Ehud Asherie and Ken Peplowski

Harrison and Holt offer a number of tantalizing songs in tandem. “After You’ve Gone” (Turner Layton/Henry Creamer) aka “After We’ve Gone” is a threat to Pompie who ostensibly forks over less lettuce than a lady needs to survive. Holt is down on her haunches seducing her uncomfortable patron while Harrison shakes her bootie showing what he’ll miss. It’s a rag with humor.

“Willow Tree” finds two juicy voices wailing on top of, beside, and around each other with deference and style. The clarinet solo could make Gabriel jealous. A duet of the iconic “Mood Indigo” (Duke Ellington/Barney Bigard/Irving Mills) in harmony is as languid and sensual as stretching on satin sheets after a hot bath. “Blues in the Night” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) includes an ooooeeee which is sheer evangelical call-out. Octave transitions are seamless. Piano plays robust honky-tonk.

Vocalists are well chosen. Harrison’s approach is bright and audacious while Holt’s wattage comes from deep, dusky ardor and lyric sculpting.

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Lezlie Harrison, Pompie, Tanya Holt

There are comments and cracks personifying character which skillfully add to atmosphere, but the host’s monologue needs work and recordings of outside mayhem are unnecessary.

This is a really good time. A walk on the wildish side with primo musicians in benign surroundings.

Photos by Lou Montasano
Opening: Tanya Holt, Lezlie Harrison

Pompie’s Place- A Pop-Up Blues Club
Host Arthur “Pompie” Pomposello, for 18 years host and booker of the famed Oak Room at The Algonquin Hotel
Vocalists: Tanya Holt and Lezlie Harrison
Ehud Asherie- MD/Piano, Ken Peplowski-Reeds.
Directed by Gregg Goldston
One more show August 10- Jon-Erik Kellso-on Trumpet that night
Pangea
178 Second Avenue between 11th & 12th Street
Venue Calendar

About Alix Cohen (1431 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of ten New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, TheaterLife, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.