Wednesday, December 31, 2014

There is only one...(And thank goodness there is only one, Allen Kanovsky, or you would run out of ink!)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 12/29/14

...Maria Rivas. 
Brian Murphy & Maria Rivas

A 5 foot, maybe 90 pound, package of vocal dynamite. Combine her vivacity with backing by Danny (brushmeister) Burger on drums, Brian (2 brain) Murphy playing piano and Nicky (Mike's brother) Orta pushing it on bass and you have a night of JAZZ that will not be soon forgotten. My nephew Jeffrey Litt and his wife Ilene join me for the evening. Neither of them have ever heard Maria or the trio before. They do not emulate my life style of frequenting JAZZ or BLUES joints. Maria proceeds to make them want to do this kind of thing more often. Maria opens the program with "Night and Day". She follows with a jumping but impassioned "We'll Be Together Again". Have you ever heard a scat vocal done with a Spanish accent? She sings a Brazilian samba tune and then swings "I've Got Rhythm". 

There is a somewhat mature couple on the dance floor. Dr.'s Edward & Libby Sulkoff. They've only been dancing together for 60 years. They inspire Denise and I to do a little 'lindy' of our own when Maria sings "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" which was an Andrew Sisters hit way back before most of you were born. 

Maria takes a break and the trio does "Winter Wonderland". Maria returns to do "Autumn Leaves" in Espanol and closes the set with her  great interpretation of "Besame Mucho". The house is abuzz with talk about Maria's performance so far. The highly intellectual remarks include words like "Wow" & "Did you hear that?". BJB's is really crowded and most of the 'regulars' are there. Isabel and brother Jim, Bill Rutan and his pal Tim, Yale, Stan, Babette, Ron, Denise and me.

Where would JAZZ vocalists be without tunes like "Rte 66" and "In A Sentimental Mood"? Maria does them both. Denise and I can't stay off the floor. Donna Blue (Brians much better half) arrives and compliments me on yesterdays(Jesse Jones Jr.) blog review. A tune from Maria's native Venezuela is a waltz titled "Poco Poc" --- Little by Little. Funk fills the air as Maria intones "Funny Valentine". She is the only one in the world who can get away with it. The band and Maria swing it again with "I'm Beginning To See the Light". Her scat portion shows a heavy Ella Fitzgerald influence. Both Brian and Danny's solos bring us back to the golden era of the 40's. When she sings "You Don't Know What Love Is" it gives Nicky a chance to show off. He can and he does. OoooWeee, Nicky! They do an instrumental of "Invitation" and all of them tear it up and I mean tear it up. Maria returns to do a lovely ballad in Spanish and all I can understand is it is about speaking the language of love in "Catalan". You want to close a set with a bang, try "Night In Tunisia". Talk about JAZZ singers. Maria shows what it takes. Nicky doesn't back down either. As one of my more educated friends said at the end of the first set, "Wow"! 
Dr.s Dancing
The last set begins with "Watch What Happens". Again in Spanish. There is a reason that Spanish is considered on of the Romance languages. During Brian's solo he quotes about 6 or 7 be-bop riffs and Nicky is quick to pick it up. Maria doesn't do "Summertime" as a lullaby. She prefers a funky BLUES rhythm. The spirit lifts her and she is dancing all over the stage. Behind her Brian is playing some great stuff. A bright "It Might As Well Be Spring" and then Maria dedicates one to me. The song is "My Romance". She does it 'con corazon y alma. Danny does incredible brush work with his solo and my being is filled with love for all the musicians who brighten my life. Thanks to you all, where ever you may be.
For personal reasons I was unable to attend the Memorial Services and Concert honoring China Valles. China was instrumental in promoting Maria Rivas' American career when in '89 he played her recording of "BLUES In the Night". He declared it his favorite version. 
Let his soul rest in peace in a musical Heaven where hopefully we will all meet again. 
Anthony Corrado
During 'happy hour' Anthony Corrado entertains the audience at BJB's. Gene Petrocelli (trumpet) joined the Jam and Hector "Pocho" Neciosup filled in for Shay on drums. Hector is quite good and I invited him to the Miami JAZZ Co-op's Rent Party at the Open Stage tonight. First set the Miami JAZZ Saxophone Quartet. Second set Jam. 

I'll be there collecting at the door. It is a rent-party after all!   


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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