Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
I have been pondering what it is that draws me in to the singing of Rebecca Kilgore and I am not sure I have satisfactorily answered the question. One thing I hear is how absolutely in tune she is, especially the blue notes. The three greatest ladies of jazz singing past, Ella (Fitzgerald), Carmen (McRae) and Sarah (Vaughan) all had outstanding intonation, but somehow Rebecca's seems even more perfect. I also love her phrasing, always finding the right frame in which to place her artistry. Whatever it is, I can just sit down with any Kilgore disc and relax in the knowledge that I will love it. Should you wish to sample one or more CDs by Rebecca Kilgore, some of my favorites include Being a Bear with Dan Barrett, The Starlit Hour with Dave Frishberg (one of her favorite partners) and I Wish You Love with Lyle Ritz on ukulele (unfortunately, the souvenir CD of selections from the program I saw is not as readily available).
The show began with "Every Baby Needs a Da-Da-Daddy" the first recorded song by young Marilyn Monroe for Ladies of the Chorus. It is silly and sensual at the same time, exactly like the soon-to-be star. Next came three songs from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend," When Love Goes Wrong" (written for the film) and "Bye Bye Baby." Other highlights of the first half were "She Acts Like a Woman Should," and "River of No Return." More about the band later, but they soloed on "Running Wild" to great acclaim. The second act highlights included "After You Get What You Want (You Don't Want It)" (from There's No Business Like Show Business), "I'm Through with Love," two songs from Let's Make Love (the title song and "Incurably Romantic"), as well as the band's take on "That Old Black Magic." The encore tune was "A Little Girl from Little Rock" again from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
In support of Ms Kilgore, but truly an equal partner, was the quartet led by tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, featuring Sarasota's own Nate Najar on guitar as well as Joel Forbes on bass and Kevin Kanner on drums. Mr. Allen and Mr. Najar got the lion's share of solo opportunities, each contributing some exciting improvisations on the various tunes. When given the opportunity, Mr. Forbes demonstrated that a bass can still handle a melodic riff. Mr. Kanner only got one solo and he made sure it was a terrific one. He was a strong presence keeping things lively.
Before the start of the show I was chatting with a gentlemen seated behind me who had seen Rebecca Kilgore live before. He described her as having "a real nice stage presence" which I think sums it up really well. She looked beautiful in a lacy black cocktail outfit. I noticed that when she had stepped away from center stage and Mr. Najar was soloing, when she needed to cross back to the mic she was careful not to block people's view of Nate's playing.
I am most grateful to The Sarasota Jazz Club or bringing this great show to town. They are celebrating April as Jazz Month with lots of events. Every Friday at 2:00 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 3975 Fruitville Rd. in Sarasota they present "Jazz at Two" Concert, with vocalist June Garber on April 12th, The Jerry Eckert Trio April 19th, and The Joe Bruno Group on April 26th. In addition are Sunday Jazz Jam sessions at Salvatore's Restaurant, Burns Court, downtown Sarasota. Be sure to check their website for more information.
The Jazz Club of Sarasota presented Rebecca Kilgore and the Harry Allen Quartet in Some Like It Hot, the Music of Marilyn Monroe on April 4, 2013, at Holly Hall in the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center 709 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida, 34236.