Holiday Weekend at Birdland - New York City Article

Holiday Weekend at Birdland

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Holiday Weekend at Birdland

Published Nov 23, 2018
Updated Nov 24, 2018

315 W 44th Street, (212) 581-3080

Eric Comstock
Saturday, November 24

Carol Sloane, “Still Autumn in New York”
Through Saturday, November 24

Veronica Swift & Emmet Cohen Trio
Through Saturday, November 24

Ken Peplowski Big Band 2
Sunday, November 25

New York: Big City Songbook -
Featuring Klea Blackhurst, LaTanya Hall and Nicolas King
Sunday, November 25

Ever since Birdland opened its beautiful new underground space, the Birdland Theater, I feel like I’m there twice as much. Case in point, this Thanksgiving weekend, which even though it’s stuffed beyond the breaking point, is anything but a turkey.
Through Saturday, Carol Sloane and Veronica Swift define the age parameters of great 21st century jazz singers, both are full of ceaseless melodic invention. The veteran Ms. Sloane (81) has chops that refuse to quit, even after a lifetime of experience, and continue to refashion great songs with both imagination and warmth. Likewise, it’s hard to put one’s finger on specifically what the greatest asset of Ms. Swift (24) actually is: her incessantly fertile musical mind, or her often-astonishing technique, which more than delivers on every promise, or the overwhelming heart and soul with which she envelopes it all. Preceding them in the evening (and continuing on Saturdays into December) Eric Comstock (whose age I’m not telling because it’s too close to home) is a singer and pianist of rare skill and remarkable smarts, who follows a piece of sheet music like his own personal treasure map.
Sunday is highlighted by two one-of-a-kind shows. Fans of the outstanding clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Ken Peplowski haven’t had a chance to hear the prodigiously-gifted reed doubler leading his own full-sized jazz orchestra in much too long. (The show will be even more welcome if it includes any of the remarkable re-imagining of the Duke Ellington-Frank Sinatra album that Mr. Peplowski performed a few years ago in Los Angeles.) The Sunday evening show is a new revue of Metro-centric songs featuring three major talents in very different shapes, Klea Blackhurst, LaTanya Hall and Nicolas King, a combination that only the outside-of-the-box thinking of Deborah Grace Winer could have dreamed up.

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, November 2017)