Monday, January 17, 2011

The Salon Wrap-Up for January 16, 2011 "January Jazzathon"

The first post-holiday Salon brought us the January Jazzathon hosted by the multi talented Rosemary Loar. In addition to Mark Janas, we had jazz pianists Dan Furman and Frank Ponzio, and the incomparable Ritt Henn on bass.

Mark Janas, ever dedicated, came to tonight’s Salon straight from JFK after spending the weekend in San Francisco to help a college friend in the recording studio with “two technicians and a piano tuner” at – get this, folks – Skywalker Ranch! He will be headed back out that way soon as after 2 seven hour days in the studio, only 9 of the 12 pieces from the Iberia Suite were completed.

Rosemary Loar, accompanied by Frank Ponzio, opened the evening with the Kander and Ebb’s “Shine it On.” She showed us what it means to sing jazz when, upon forgetting the lyrics, she sang “I’m going to make up the words because I’m a jazz singer!” and then gave some excellent scatting. You can catch Rosemary at the Metropolitan Room with her show Sting, Stang, Stung! On January 28th, February 5th, and 26th.

Elaine St George was up next with Mark “I’m not a jazz pianist” Janas accompanying her on a swinging rendition of “I Get a Kick Out of You.” Elaine will be at the Metropolitan room in her show “InspiRAYtion: The Musical Legacy of Ray Charles” at 9:30pm on January 19th.

Stephanie Zagoren brought us the very pretty “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.”

Tony Imgrund gave us a mellow and smooth jazz rendition of Frank Loesser’s “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.”

Bobbie Horowitz presented “the only Jazz Horowitz and Spector tune,” the fun and amusing “Monkey Round the Park.” Bobbie has a new book coming out – “Find Your Mini-Q’s (?)*”, and a Dress to Get Yes Workshop coming up on Feb 5th “at a secret location.” Check out for information on Bobbie’s upcoming classes.

Our guest jazz pianist, Dan Furman, was up next giving us hi jazz adaptation of Pete Seeger’s “If I had a Hammer,” a song he found in his father’s record collection.

Richie Eisenberg showed us some of his acting ability as he was joined by Rosemary Loar for a duet of his original tune “Smile on My Face.” The chemistry between these two was adorable.

Nick Levin played his original song “The Olives of Regret.”

Former Etc. Etc. waiter David Ballard made his first Salon appearance as just a “regular” guest as he is no longer working at Etc. Etc. but focusing on his performing career! He sang his original song “I’ve Never Liked Christmas,” about the things we dislike becoming things we love because our significant other loves it. It was his first effort at writing lyrics, music, and arranging the piano score, and came out brilliantly on all sides.

Melissa Heche made her Salon debut with “Unwritten,” and rocked it out. She will be appearing at the Triad on January 28th at 8pm in The Show Must Go On, a benefit for the New York Association of Audiology and the American Academy of Audiology Foundation. Visit for more information and to order tickets.

Next up, Arianna (me!) took a departure from her usual classical sound to give a jazzy “’Til You Come Back to Me.”

Etcetterette Danielle Grabianowski sang “Hallelujah, I Just Love Him So.” She is double booked for January 17th performing at both the National Arts Club and the Laurie Beechman Theatre for the Friends with Benefits Benefit Concert.

The Henn Family Singers (Ritt and his hysterical mother, Bets) made their first public performance of 2011 with a little ditty Bets learned in 4th grade music class. There was much ad-libbing and much laughter.

Mark Janas closed out the first set with Classical Corner, giving us his theory that Chopin was actually the first true Jazz pianist. What most of us don’t realize is that classical music was originally played in an improvisational style. Of course, now, we are used to classical pieces being played in very set and specific ways. Mark asked for a series of notes from the audience, and then improvised a melody based on those notes – Mozart would do the same when he performed in concert. Mark then played part of Beethoven’s "7th Concerto" to illustrate themes and variations and how it relates to the workings of modern jazz.

Mark then moved on to Chopin’s "F Minor Ballade." He played it as written to get us familiar with the piece, and then had Dan come to the piano. Mark wrote out the Ballade in chord chart form so Dan and Frank could give us their Jazz take on the piece. It was really neat to hear Chopin go from the familiar classical piece most of us are used to to a very distinctly Jazz arrangement. It was still recognizable, and yet completely different. Dan began the piece again, this time with a more uptempo swing feel – truly brilliant playing.

Frank Ponzio then “tagged in” to give us yet another jazz take on Chopin. Frank’s version was a more quiet jazz bar rendition – sounding like something you might here in a smoky coffeehouse somewhere – while still being recognizable as Chopin’s "F Minor Ballade."

The second half of the Salon opened up with Rosemary Loar (accompanied by Frank Ponzio) giving a very sultry rendition of Sting’s “Roxanne” which then morphed into a swing tempo "Tomorrow We’ll See." She followed that up with "Mad About You," and ended her set with the brilliant “Quando Swing,” which takes Puccini’s “Quando Men Vo” and morphs it into “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing.”

Richie Eisenberg came up for an encore with another great original piece.

Our lovely producer, Tanya Moberly, gave us the very wordy “Dat Dere” accompanied by Dan Furman. Tanya will be appearing February 26th at Don’t Tell Mama’s as part of Sue Matsuki’s “People You Should Know” concert. Tanya is also available at reasonable rates for coaching and directing work.

Etcetterette Danielle returned to the stage bringing out a song she sang in the 9th grade – a fun, jazzy rendition of Frank Loesser’s “Wouldn’t it be Loverly.”

In response to recent changes in the Zodiac, Steve Schalchlin gave us his “Hymn to Ophiuchus” (pronounced, for the purpose of this piece, as “Oh F*@k Us”). It was truly brilliant and had us all in hysterics.

Bobbie Horowitz returned to the stage giving us another of her original songs, explaining that she shops, not for the joy of shopping, but for love of country!

Elaine St George brought her smooth and lovely voice back to the stage for an encore.

Tony Imgrund encored with a lovely rendition of “Embraceable You.”

Etcetterette Arianna was having a “Frank Wildhorn kind of night” and gave an emotional rendition of “I’ll Forget You” from the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Rosemary Loar closed out the evening by asking the audience for chords – which were thrown out with increasing obscurity! Rosemary then sang all of the evenings “Thank You’s.” Ritt joined in with his own list of “Thank You’s,” singing his own random chord progression. The evening came to a close with a plethora of scatting.

The Salon continues next week, January 23rd with co-host Jimmy Roberts, Salon Spotlight Jim Brochu and Steve Schachlin. The theme for the evening is "The Best of Off Broadway."

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