Opinion

A review: Voices of jazz

I just love going to the Arts Live concerts, and I especially like to

go with no pre-conceived notions on what to expect. Take the last one, for

example. What exactly are voices of jazz

danced?

The curtain opened to what appeared to be a small nightclub.

There was a smallish platform stage at the center, musicians with piano

and stand-up bass, and four small round tables off to either side of the

room set with wine and wine glasses atop checkered tablecloths. Young men

and women were sitting at the tables when the music started. The lone

woman singer on the mini-stage had on a sequined gown with a feather in her

hair, reminding me a tiny bit of a young Mae West.

While Greta Matassa, vocalist, sang a tribute to Peggy Lee, the

lithe young men and women began dancing seemingly effortlessly. It was

what we used to call "interpretive

dance," and no doubt many of the people in the audience were as surprised as I

was at first. It was choreographed dance set to jazz music. Such memories

it brought back of my sister when we were growing up. Linda would

dance her "modern dance" around the

house, while younger siblings Chuck and I would complain to our

mother,"Mom, Linda's dancing around in the

house again!"

When they played "All the Things You Are," a tribute to Tony Bennett,

it was a beautiful slow number. My normal reaction at concerts is to close

my eyes and let the music take me where it will. But with Voices of

Jazz, Danced, I'd miss half the show if I did that. The women dancers had on

colorful, flowing backless dresses and had removed their shoes,

romantically slow-dancing as if at an outdoor concert in the park. As the song ends,

they all leave together as if to walk along the river on the way home.

In the number "Rhythmning," a tribute to Carmen McRae, we

were treated to some absolutely fantastic tap dancing. The ladies had all put on

jackets and pants, and the dance seemed to have a little ballet mixed in with

the tap. The lead dancer, Brandon McClesky, (I think he is only

around 20 and we caught him and another dancer smoking cigarettes, of

all things, after the show!) did a sort of dueling tap dance with the

drummer that was just incredible to watch and appreciate.

The second half brought us "No More," a tribute to Billie

Holiday. Greta's voice inflections took on the ghost of that great blues singer,

and the dancers were dressed all in black. Their movements reminded me of

the people we used to call "beatniks." "Open the Door," a tribute to

Betty Carter, showed us an unusual skit depicting a drunk rich woman on a

cruise ship with another male passenger and a red-coated waiter who seemed

more interested in gaining the attentions of the man than the belligerent

drunken woman. That was a little bizarre by Snoqualmie standards, I must admit.

Besides the tap number, my favorite was "Sweet Georgia Brown," a

tribute to Anita O'Day. How those dancers memorize all those graceful

and sassy moves is way beyond my comprehension. The choreography

was fantastic all around and the dancing only made me want to learn more

from Bill and Lupe, dance instructors of Dance All Night. The music was

first-rate with piano, saxophone, horns, bass and drums.

For more information about catching the rest of the Snoqualmie

Valley Arts Live concerts, call (425) 888-1514. Go ahead and try

something different on a Sunday afternoon — tickets are still available.

Sue Beauvais is a local business owner and enthusiastic

supporter of the arts. Send comments to SueBeauvais@hotmail.com.

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