Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Birthday Celebration...(And more, as Allen Kanovsky relates...)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 01/27/15

...and a celebration of Life. Last night was the Miami JAZZCo-op Rent Party at the Open Stage in Coral Gables. The featured artist was Maria Rivas. It also was her Birthday. About a year ago, the Angel of Death stood at the door of her hospital room. G-d and the prayers of many were at her bedside. A brilliant physician, whose name, I unfortunately do not know, had developed a chemo formula specific to Maria's type of cancer. Science and Faith in the Lord brought a miracle to Miami Baptist Hospital that day.  Last night the club was full of fans and friends including Iliana and her family, Angela and Juan (The Fish House), Bill Rutan, his pal Tom, Dr. Jules Oaklander, Larry Lapin, Donna Blue, Dr. Joan Gluck and husband, Nanami Morakawa (Ousley) and I. Maria was dressed in what I would describe as Flapper/Mod. Pictured below. The look was devastating. If I could, I would have packed her in a box and taken her home----never to be released! With her was the hottest rhythm team in town. Danny Burger (the brushmeister), Brian Murphy and Jamie Ousley---drums, piano, bass in that order. I don't know why but when singers see me in the audience they opt to do Nat 'King' Cole's "Lush Life". Maria opens with it. She not only looks great, she is singing great! Brian and Jamie do their best in playing up to her level. Maria's in Latin mode tonight and she does "Girl From Ipanema" in Spanish. "See What Happens" a little scat and a little Danny. Dizzy's "Night In Tunisia" is what Maria likes to have fun with. En Espanol, even the scat lines were done in Spanish. Maria takes a break and the trio does "Invitation". Maria returns to do a romantic "Poco, Poco". Maria not only sings en Espanol , she can do Yiddish just as well. She proves it with "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen". The opening lyric line goes--'Of all the gals(guys) that I've know, and I've known some' is one of my all-time favorites. It joins "but will you love me tomorrow?" Jaimie swings it and Danny shows off his brushwork. She softly sings a Spanish congratulatory song to herself. Dr. Jules had ordered a birthday cake. Maria blows out the candles while we all sing Happy Birthday. Fran, Rick Katz's wife cuts it into perfect slices and there is more than enough for all. The 2nd set opened with Maria dedicating the song to me and the late mother of my(our) children, Flo. The tune is "My Romance". It touches me. If Flo was still here, we would have danced. Close and "cheek to cheek". Brian and Jamie's solos reflect how they felt about her as well. The mood is lightened with a swing number from the past, "I'm Beginning To See the Light". They all have fun with it. I have said it before but there is no one and nobody who does "Besame Mucho" like Maria. It is creative, imaginative, innovative and outright spectacular. She pleads for love and makes fun of the thought. Kiss me a lot, but so what if you don't! Brian prods Danny and Jamie into Clave rhythms. Maria takes a break and the trio does another one from the history books "Tangerine". Memories of Helen O'Connol and Ray Eberle. Maria returns and invites Keanu, a young saxophonist, up to do "Funny Valentine" with her. You can't have asked for a better combo than her voice and his tones. You can see and hear the joy in both of them. They trade 4's. Voice and sax. One following the other and then reverse. It was what JAZZ is all about. Definitely one for the memory bank. I notice Joan doing pencil sketches. (one of Maria pictured). She is doing----sketching, my friend Bill. She says he has an interesting face. I say it's a disrupted distortion---but what do I know? Hannah(alto) comes up and the collectively do "Autumn Leaves". Hannah's solo keeps your attention and Keanu follows suit. Maria is singing in spanish ad the rhythm is 'bolero'. Nice, real nice. Some audience members call for "Manduco". It is a funky Latin thing. Maria does a dozen or so bars and then sings "Summertime". She makes it her very own and you know it. Doctor Jules and I say our "Good nights" and both agree that we are still hungry. We stop at IHOP for an early morning (late nite) breakfast. Dr. Jules is a VEGAN(all caps). He orders an egg white omelet with spinach, mushrooms and broccoli. Sliced tomatoes and English muffin on the side, Decaf coffee with warm milk. I am a carnivore/glutton. I order pancakes, eggs, double BACON and regular coffee, black! He does't look at me while I eat. We talk about this and that. From a far away table I hear somebody mention Joey Bishop. Ranses Colon is talking with Mark Fernicola. they finish their food. We finish hours. They join us and we talk 'til the wee hours. What do we talk about? Club owners and how they pay (read DON'T pay). I offer a history lesson on the subject.  

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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