Renee Raff with Jay Leonhart & Ken Peplowski @ Feinstein's - New York City Article

Renee Raff with Jay Leonhart & Ken Peplowski @ Feinstein's

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Renee Raff with Jay Leonhart & Ken Peplowski @ Feinstein's

Nov 4, 2019

Renee Raff with Jay Leonhart & Ken Peplowski
Feinstein’s / 54 Below
254 West 54th St
Tuesday November 5

The highly-storied singer and pianist, born and raised in South Africa, is celebrating her 85th birthday this week at Feinstein’s, but her more than 50 years of actively performing are also a cause for celebration; if you don’t believe me, her excellent 1965 album, Among the Stars is readily available, albeit in a highly scratchy vinyl transfer, on Apple Music (also the youtubes) and it documents a delightfully understated artist, with a voice that suggests a halfway point between Cleo Laine and Blossom Dearie - more subtle than the former but more aggressive than the latter - and more than a touch of the late Rita Reys, The Netherlands’ greatest gift to jazz singing. Along with the legendary Monty Alexander, who turned 75 this year, she’s also one of the few active veterans of the iconic piano room Jilly’s, in which the keyboard talented was personally scouted by Sinatra himself (much the same way that the primary talent at Feinstein’s has the tacit approval of his nibs, Michael Feinstein himself). Her New York appearances are as rare as butterflies with hiccups, so don’t miss this much anticipated show, in which she’s supported and boosted by the exceptional saxophonist Ken Peplowski and remarkable bassist Jay Leonhart, himself approaching his 60th anniversary in the show business and still the best friend a singer ever had.

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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)