Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Salon Wrap-up for March 17, 2013 "It's Not Easy Being Green - The Music of Spring"

Spring is just days away, and Mark Janas is back!  What a great evening we had this past Sunday.  Mark was firing away at the piano before we even got started.  We had some truly amazing talent sitting in for Mark while he was gone, but, judging by those fingers firing away at the piano, Mark was just as happy to be back as we were to finally have him.

Our gorgeous Co-Host for the evening, Jaye Maynard, dressed to impress -- and fit the Irish holiday -- in her stunning green dress.  Jaye, who knew Mark, previously, having done shows together like the crazy Christmas Interruptus and Talk Of The Town, started the evening off crooning "Sunday Afternoon"(with the talented Jon Delfin at the keys) -- the first of her songs by the marvelous Blossom Dearie.  Jaye's show Bird Amongst The Blossom is a tribute to the songs of the late Ms. Dearie.  With her ease and silky smooth voice, Jaye made us all instant fans, all eagerly awaiting her next song.

Jonathan Prager bravely started the open mic portion of the night with "Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square," followed by Mark Levy performing a brilliant "Mr. Cellophane" from Chicago, complete with soft-shoe, kicks, and jazz hands.

We had a mini Barry Levitt segment, with songs from Lou Iacovino ("Don't Go To Strangers" by Arthur Kent and Redd Evans), Shrimani Senay (with a fantastic bluesy arrangement of George Michael's "Faith"), Jacqueline Hashimoto (giving us a deliciously rich and smoky "It Had To Be You"), Sunny Leigh (celebrating the theme with "Spring, Spring, Spring" by Johnny Mercer), and Gary Crawford (with a great "Suddenly It's Spring" by James Van Heusen and Johnny Burke).  The brilliant Mr. Levitt wrapped up his section with a swingin' "Pennies From Heaven," scattin' his way into our hearts -- as though he wasn't there to begin with. ;)

Next up, it was our resident handsome, charming, and talented singing server, David Ballard, chirping a gorgeous "I'll Be Here."  He is continuing his 2nd year as a lyricist in the BMI Workshop, and he will be performing this Sunday afternoon, March 24th, in Cookie's Corner at the Laurie Beechman Theatre at 3pm.  That's right -- you can do the Beechman and the Salon in the same day!

'Twas I, Candice Oden, who followed, singing "A New Life" (with far too much wine in me).  I am still doing the workshop at The Alec Baldwin Fellowship at the Singers Forum, performing in Bobby Cronin and Allen Mogol's amazing 'Til Death Do Us Part.  I was also lucky enough to do a table read of Bobby's new show The Concrete Jungle, and sing in his international CD release concert for the same musical.

I have now made way for the amazing Sarah Rice, who delivered a traditional [and if I heard her correctly, a dead bride's] song, "She Moved Through The Fair" -- and just as gorgeously as ever.  A little trivia for you: Sarah won a 2010 Bistro Award and 2011 MAC Award for Female Vocalist!  She will be doing Sondheim Unplugged this Sunday, March 24th, at 54 Below, and, gosh -- I wonder why ... ;)  For those of you who don't know, Ms. Rice was the original Johanna in Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.  Yes, she is that amazing.

We had a great Salon Spotlight this week:  Dwight Thomas Vaughn singing (and at the piano) with Sean Harkness at the guitar.  The pair started with Keith Urban's [and Richard Marx's] "Better Life," which was so much fun, followed by two originals, "Auntie Sheilah In Hilo" and "One More Day."  Dwight was nominated for Best Male Debut of 2012 for Trail of Cheers.  You must see this pair (joined by the rest of the band) on April 2.  Dwight Thomas Vaughn & The Missouri Statesmen will be at the Iridium Night Club.

Classical Corner

What a treat to have Mark back.  Mark Janas' Classical Corner is so special -- as is the man, himself.  He takes us on a journey that is new to everyone each week, whether you are an expert on the week's topic or not.  Mark puts his heart and soul into the piano itself, so that each one of us is changed a little bit every Sunday around 8 or 9pm.  He captivates everyone in the room.  This week's journey started as they usually do, with little tastes of a few different pieces that have been brought to Mark's mind by the theme, this one starting with a bit of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons."  This set of four violin concertos has three movements per season.  No, we did not hear 12 movements. ;)  Next was a taste of Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring," which was not actually originally titled as such.  The spring theme came from Martha Graham and her choreography for the piece.  Then came Beethoven's 6th Symphony in F major (first movement).  Mark commented that so much classical music is based on a spring theme.

But really ... Mark wanted to play something that he's been working on. ;)  A Chopin piece.  He loves a ballade, particularly Chopin ballades.  They all have a few things in common.  First, they, themselves, are a story.  They are also always in 6/8.  Most have sad themes, sometimes big and ominous -- all of them having recurrent themes.  But this piece, he thought, was spring-like, full of optimism.  It was Chopin's Ballade in A Flat Major.  I have to say, over the course of this Classical Corner, I haven't heard so many "wows" at once in quite some time.  Mark's fingers were flying away, making magic, rather than just music.

Second Set

And it begins!  Mark's re-introduction of our Co-Host describing "the tastiest, cleanest jazz chords" he'd heard was completely appropriate.  Jaye Maynord and Jon Delfin delivered.  Jaye explained her love for Blossom Dearie and her work, and the love was truly expressed in her songs.  First was "Spring Blossom Dame," followed by "Winchester in Apple Blossom Time," and, finally, "Long Daddy Green," where she got to show off the real meat of her voice.

The gorgeous Tanya Moberly was up next to resume the open mic portion of the night!  She didn't let a cold stand in the way of taking us on the journey of her rendition of "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most."  Tanya has the great ability to make every song her own, usually making you listen to the song as though you've never heard it before.  In case you haven't heard the word, she has been nominated for the 2013 MAC Award for Best Female Vocalist!  She is also directing Marnie Klar's upcoming show at Don't Tell Mama April 13th, 26th, May 8th, and 21st.

Following Tanya was Jerry Zieselman with "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" from Finian's Rainbow.  Jerry is a performer for an amazing organization called VocalEase (as is Jaye) that provides live entertainment for NYC's senior citizens!

Vickie Phillips, who will be at Don't Tell Mama in June, was up next to the stage with "Me And My Shadow," followed by Matthew Martin Ward with "Currier And Ives," a cautionary tale by Dorothy Fields and Sydney Romberg.  Matthew just finished the basic tracks for the Hopelessly In Love CD!

Bill Zeffiro surprised us next with a new song of his -- and it's a ballad!  Wait -- a romantic ballad!  It is incredibly touching and sweet with just enough Bill Zeff sass, and it is entitled "An Oft-Told Tale."  Yes, there may be a lady involved, and, as Bill said, "Even if it doesn't work out, at least I got a song out of it!"  And a great one, at that.

Dawn Derow graced the stage after Bill, singing her version (and an awesome one) of Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You Babe."  She has her CD release concert with Sean Harkness on May 23 at the Cutting Room.  She can also be seen this Friday at Somethin' Jazz with her band, Iris.

The very talented Eva Kanton, whose solo debut, The Way I Am, will be at the Beechman, followed with "Just To Look At Him" by Brian Lasser and Gary Gardner.  After Eva came cabaret all-star Cookie Stark with a fantastic "Broadway Baby."  Don't forget about Cookie's Corner on Sunday.

Our final open mic-er was the amazing Eric Michael Gillett.  He gave us Ahrens and Flaherty's "I Was Here."  And that he was.  It is always such a joy and privilege to see/hear him perform, always taking us into his world.  He will be at the Beechman in April with We Lost It At The Movies with Tovah Feldshuh and more.  Do not miss it!

Jaye closed our evening with "I Like You, You're Nice,"so lovely and charmingly -- I cannot wait for her return.

Next Week

Our [optional] theme is: "Simple Joys," and our Co-Host is MAC & Bistro Award-Winner Stacy Sullivan!  She has been nominated for THREE 2013 MAC Awards, and will be at The Carlyle in May with her critically acclaimed It's A Good Day: A Tribute to Miss Peggy Lee.

And, our beloved (and incredibly talented) etcetterette Erin Cronican will be back on Sunday! :)  See?  This is a week you won't want to miss. ;)  We hope to see you then!

- Candice Oden
Guest Blogette for The Salon
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