Monday, July 6, 2015

Taking a chance on...(...and Allen Kanovsky loves what Noreena Downey does!)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 06/xx/15

...melody, lyrics, tempo & rhythm is what Ms. Noreena Downey does and does well. Her performance, yesterday, at the Riverwalk JAZZ Brunch left a strong impression on my thinking about "chick" singers. Noreena is no "chick" singer. She is a JAZZ singer. 

This gal had me listening in amazement to her interpretations of well known songs.Her rhythm section were all masterful musicians in their own right. Jaui Schneider at the keyboard. Don Coffman playing upright bass and Goetz Kujack handling the sticks. Playing behind Noreena is no easy gig. They opened with "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" in a nice easy swing with each of the trio having solos. Long-time friend, Bette Forman joined me after being misdirected. It was then that Ms. Downey let down her beautiful locks and started taking the aforementioned 'chances'. How about " I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" in 3/4 waltz time. Then to a slow tempo'd tango beat "All Of Me". No one but Noreena could carry that off. Jaui is sooo at home with Latin rhythms. Back to swing and taking melody chances with "No Moon At All". Noreena is animated in an unobtrusive way when she performs. She loves dancing to the music. I took her hand and helped her down from the bandstand to cut a little concrete. She is as light as a feather, has the most beautiful blue eyes and the bottom end ain't bad either. Next was a scatified bossa with no lyric. Talk about playing a song in an unusual way, she does "Bye. Bye Blackbird" a slow drag beat. Jaui provides an outstanding solo. Don is on to the idea with lots of bent notes when he gets his turn. They trade 4's all around to take the number out. Noreena now displays her range with "I Need Your Love", a very romantic ballad. They took the set out with a swinging "On The Street Where You Live". I am reflecting on the music I had just heard and wonder why Noreena hasn't achieved more acclaim as a JAZZ vocalist. She certainly is unique in style and there is nothing wrong with her voice. The 6 songs in the 2nd set were "You Make Me Feel So Good" and she did. A little BLUES with "You're No Good". The "OOba" bossa nova, "Kansas City" to a slow drag beat, "Besame Mucho" a la Bolero and ended with a swinging "Night & Day". Jeannette Pena made an appearance & I introduced her to Noreena. 

The final set started with one of my favorites from way 'back in the day", "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". Lots of wonderful memories of holding girls tight and close, slow dancing, in the smoky "social" clubs in the basements of The Bronx. How often have you heard "Summertime"?  Now, how many times to a soft 'bossa' beat?. The final song was "You Won't Know What Love Is". It started as a very romantic ballad and bar by musical bar morphed to a soft rhumba. It was the perfect ending to a most pleasurable afternoon. Thank you Noreena, Jaui, Don & Goetz. I have to mention that I have a CD "La Cuna" by Ray Baretto going back to 1993. Jaui, who was Howard then, composed the title tune. He was gracious enough to sign it for me. If you haven't heard Noreena check the listings at the Pompano Casino. 

Tonight "Sound Of Vision" at the Miami JAZZ Co-opp Rent Party.

Al's Disclaimer:
A short note: The reason I write this is because I love music and words. I do not book acts. I do not promote acts. I do not accept invitations to review artists. I go to venues of my own choice. When and where is not influenced by anything other than who I would like to hear that night or day. If I don't like what I hear, I won't write about it. When I like it I let you all know. I never mention a name without asking permission. "Pardon me, Miss. Would you like to dance?" 

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