Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Norman Gimbel

Stacey Kent Sambas Into Birdland-ahhhhh


When vocalist Stacey Kent and husband, musician/writer/arranger Jim Tomlinson, samba into Birdland, the faithful gather with sure knowledge of respite from the world outside. Pulses slow, audiences sway. Kent’s sighing, slightly nasal voice, back of the throat vibrato, and slip/slide octaves pair with Tomlinson’s soulful, as-if-muted alto saxophone and winged flute to deliver a dreamlike evening far from the madding crowd. Tonight joined by Tom Hubbard-bass, Josh Morris-drums, and the extraordinary Art Hirahara on piano, they don’t disappoint.

Tomlinson’s contemporary “Make It Up” (with Cliff Goldmacher) is mid-tempo, upbeat and utterly charming. …If we knew what we were doing/We’d be doing it all wrong/So let’s just make it up as we go along…Hirahara’s piano sounds dappled with sunlight.  Kent is infectiously flirty. This and the composer’s quirky, vocally ethereal “Ice Hotel” (with Kazuro Ishiguro), with which I’m familiar, are two of tonight’s highlights. More original material would be appreciated.


Stacey Kent and Jim Tomlinson

Beautifully rendered, non-Brazilian standards include Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You,” sentimentally evoking a lantern-lit country club or USO dance from the 1940s and a palpably savored “That’s All” (Alan Brandt/ Bob Haymes) with pauses between verses that never feel empty. Circling brushes, stroked bass, and delicate piano support Tomlinson’s eloquent sax soliloquy on the second number. The musician effortlessly bends notes and emotions. Kent steps offstage to listen and admire.

“If I’m Lucky” (Josef Myrow/Eddie DeLange) is a tribute to Perry Como of whom Kent is “a huge fan.” If I’m lucky/This will be no light affair/It’s forever/From the start…The ballad floats in sloooow and easy. Kent’s eyes close, one hand holding the microphone stand. Bass shadows, sax is as mellow as it gets, every piano note is pristine whether tripling or barely touched. It’s a hope, a request, a vision, tinged by sad history.

Rodgers and Hammerstein are affectionately represented by “People Will Say We’re In Love” and “Happy Talk,” (Kent on guitar) both with Brazilian arrangements. The vocalist often comes in off the beat, waiting for and sensing currents on which she might hitch, and sometimes from above a note, giving lyrics organic lilt. “Happy Talk” is effervescent- a sky filled with kites at play, circling, darting, tails like airborne doodles.

0358 Birdland Tenderly by Stacey Kent 7.5.16

Jim Tomlinson and Stacey Kent

Among Brazilian numbers, untranslated but for its title (Kent sings in perfect Portuguese and French), “Estrada de Sol” -Street of the Sun (Tom Jobim/Dolores Duran) is lush, grateful, playful. The lovers have made it through a “stormy” night. Marcos Valle’s “The Face I Love” …Just think of things Like a daffodils /And peaceful sheep/ On clover hills/ And morning sun/ On whippoorwills/ And you’ll see the face that I love…emerges in deep melodic, hammock-like scallops. Hubbard’s bass is rhythmic thrum, notes overlapping as if woven. Hirahara’s piano takes off with an untraceable flight plan.

I admit to having heard “So Nice” aka Summer Samba (Marcus Valle/Paulo Sergio Valle/Norman Gimbel), “One Note Samba” (Tom Jobim/Newton Mendonça), and Jobim’s “Aquas de Marco” aka Waters of March perhaps once too often and can only imagine how Kent and Tomlinson feel after hundreds of performances. Time to replace these?

An evocative, romantic evening reminding us something exists besides bad news.

Photos by Steve Friedman

Opening: Stacey Kent  (Tom Hubbard-bass)

Birdland Jazz Club  
315 West 44th Street
Through July 9, 2016

Laurie Krauz and Daryl Kojak – A Kismet Musical Partnership


The 9th show in Stephen Hanks estimable New York Cabaret’s Greatest Hits series celebrates Laurie Krauz and Daryl Kojak’s 25 years of musical collaboration. “We’ve been working together since the world wide web went public,” she quips. It’s also a where-have-I-been-all-these-years revelation. Formidably talented, the duo, (with Sean Conly on bass and Gene Lewin, drums), represent a fortuitous coming together the universe doesn’t often facilitate.

Laurie Krauz channels her music from somewhere to which most of us will never have access. It courses through her body like electricity, shaped by palpable, tingling control; like a mesmerizing snake dance. By her side, Daryl Kojak taps into that same frequency, antennae up, responding.

A unique rendition of “Never Neverland” (Betty Comden/ Adolph Green/Jule Styne) emerges as gentle jazz with no loss of sentimental intention. In my experience, jazz interpretations of ballads mostly sacrifice meaning. Here, the duo manages to maintain this with grace. Piano sweeps of stardust, a bowed bass and circling brushes float a vocal which, deferring  to the song’s purity, delivers barely an extra syllable.


Oscar Hammerstein II/Richard Rodgers’s iconic “Some Enchanted Evening” can here also be classified as jazz, yet emotionally communicates without getting sidetracked. Kojak’s piano keys sound like wind chimes. A drum is patted. It’s a black and white 40s film with curtains blown against an open French door. Dark, serious, evocative. Open-throated (open-hearted) singing is paired with tiptoeing accompaniment. The number exists like a snuffed candle, leaving whirls of smoke.

Even the chestnut “I Will Wait For You” (Norman Gimbel/English Lyric Michel Legrand) is given iconoclastic treatment. An exuberantly windy arrangement with sensuous, rhythmic drums feels like sirocco. Krauz sails up to oooing contralto and down to alto. I find myself dovening (rocking back and forth.)

The tandem “A House is Not a Home” (Burt Bachrach/Hal David) and “Since You Stayed Here” (Peter Larson/Josh Rubins), begins thoughtfully. Piano caresses. Krauz reaches deeply. I can feel her chest constrict, then fill with a sigh as she seems to recall. The second song, from the musical Brownstone, is an apt continuance…You’d never recognize the room/The pictures all have different frames now/All the chairs are rearranged now…it’s enacted without a flicker of artificiality. Bass acts as ballast.

“Send Me a Man,” (also YouTube Alberta Hunter’s 1935 recording) is saucy, playful Krauz in full Mae West mode. Symbiosis is never more apparent. Kojak plays a superb piano solo to which Krauz, hanging over the keyboard, reacts as if they’re having sex. “Oh yeah!.. that’s nice…YES!” No kidding. Not a word or moan is extraneous. This is a helluva thing to watch/hear. The vocalist moves as if compelled. Kojak breaks into burlesque honky-tonk, precise, but insinuating. FUN!


Several predominantly scat tunes show off Krauz’s skill and individuality with this kind of musicality. The best is Kokak’s own composition. “Ducksoup” which sounds a bit like a cool, Pink Panther theme. Krauz peppers and punctuates, progressing to an uncanny, mute-horn-like wah-wah. Closing her eyes, she bends, gestures, and squeezes out the vocal. We see a smoky back room, tilted fedoras, finessed hip movement. “Everybody sing!” And curiously we do-come in on a scat line, higgledy-piggeldy but grinning. Start/stops are like winks.

A warm, funny woman, Krauz tells us about her “first gig,” being paid a quarter by her father not to sing (she endlessly extemporized songs on family car trips) and shares her personal take on a Monica Lewinsky sighting back in the day that would have made a fine Saturday Night Live skit. My single caveat of this performance is that patter, though mostly entertaining, goes on too long.

“When you work closely with someone for 25 years, you become really good friends…” introduces a muscular version of “Here’s To Life” (Phyllis Molinary/Artie Butler) which is viscerally textured by experience and sincerity. The packed room erupts.

Photos by Maryann Lopinto

The Metropolitan Room May 14, 2016
Venue Calendar
Next in the monthly series,  New York Cabaret’s Greatest Hits
Barbara Porteus- June 13, 7 p.m.