Events at the Walt Disney HallWalt Disney Hall — By Buddy Sampson on May 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm
By Buddy Sampson: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy bought in 2010 with a bang.
I was watching cable television one night and saw a movie, “Swingers” and in many of the scenes, it featured a great swing band and I wondered who is this group?
Well, I heard great things about a very good group, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. They were appearing at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2009 and I decided to go check them out. To my surprise, it was the same group that performed in the “Swingers” movie. And, at The Disney Hall, they were not only better than they were in the movie, they were funny, had terrific stage presence and as we say in the Black community, “clean,” impeccably dressed. Clothed in 30s and 40s styled suits, these guys were ready for business and yes they took care of it. The nine-member group played many tunes from their significant repertoire of material, all great songs. And their showmanship was nothing short of impeccable. They had three dancers on certain songs, which added color to their fluid stage presence, aptly illustrated by their lead singer and guitarist Scotty Morris. Morris was fun to watch and pointed out that the band that graced the stage were all original members, a difficult accomplishment to achieve, particularly in this era of ego between talented musicians.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy even did a tribute to Cab Calloway, performing Minnie The Moocher. Their version would make Calloway proud. I was lucky enough to meet Cab Calloway and see him perform right before he passed away. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy seems to realize the value of history by presenting a tribute to one of the musical masters before them. They are a very, very good group and you should make it a point to see them perform. Maybe I’ll buy that Swingers movie, huh?
Pink Martini at the Walt Disney Concert Hall
Featuring Jimmy Scott
By Glen Doll
Picture yourself at a sophisticated nightclub, as depicted by the old Hollywood movies. That was the mood this past New Year’s Eve as the Walt Disney Concert Hall served up an intoxicating musical cocktail called Pink Martini, adding celebrated vocalist Jimmy Scott to provide an evening of entertainment like Bogie and Bacall would have appreciated.
Founded in 1994 by Thomas M. Lauderdale, Pink Martini is a musical concoction which mixes selections from the so-called “American Songbook” with a generous splash of World Music rhythms and a dash of virtuoso classical to create some very intoxicating musical entertainment. Twenty musicians, led by Lauderdale at the piano, demonstrated their superb musicality in songs ranging from Broadway to boleros. Featured vocalist, China Forbes, possesses a fine vocal range with a wonderful warm tone. These gifts, aided by her fine interpretative skill, made renditions of old standards seem fresh and moving. Her performance of “Que Sera, Sera” (sung originally by Doris Day for a Hitchcock film) was further enhanced by a slightly discordant string arrangement which made the song somehow simultaneously sweet and haunting.
Jimmy Scott appeared near the midpoint of the show. Oftentimes known as “Little” Jimmy Scott because of his small stature (something less than five feet tall) it was clear that Scott, now 84, has had some health problems, forcing him to use a wheelchair at this performance. As a result, his voice may be somewhat diminished from the days when he was a star performer in New York City. His style, however, is undiminished and the poignancy he brought to his several numbers, especially “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” brought the crowd to its feet. His phrasing, sometimes described as eccentric because of his manner of singing far behind the beat, allows him to tell the story of the lyric in a way that contemporary singers too often ignore. The event told a story of a magnificent performance that could have rivaled shows of the 30’s and 40’s.
Glen Doll is a terrific writer and harmonica player that lent his services to The Scoop LA to write this piece on Pink Martini. An accomplished musician, Doll has performed with Bonnie Raitt, Keb Mo’ and the legendary Linda Hopkins. He has also fronted his own ensemble, The LA Blues Lab. Visit his website, www.glendoll.com.
L.A. Phil Announces Gustavo Dudamel
By Buddy Sampson
“Classical music has many faces,” said Gustavo Dudamel as he was introduced in his inaugural season as the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Indeed, the LA Phil will take on a bright and new personality in the form of exciting and energetic conductor Dudamel. “L.A. is a place with a very special tradition,” he said, slated to replace popular conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen this year. Stay tuned for more on Gustavo Dudamel. Visit www.LAPhil.org.
Milton Nascimento and The Jobim Trio at Walt Disney Hall
By Buddy Sampson
Bossa Nova music is a timeless art form. Romantic, rhythmic and sentimental, the music originated in Brazil. Representing the best of Bossa Nova at the Walt Disney Concert Hall was Milton Nascimento and The Jobim Trio.
The show, which had no intermission, started with The Jobim Trio, which featured Paulo Jobim on acoustic guitar, Rodrigo Villa on upright bass, Paulo Braga on drums and Daniel Jobim on piano, who also provided smooth vocals on the first 2 tunes. Hmm, isn’t that a quartet? Anyway, the show clearly belonged to Milton Nascimento, who demonstrated a unparalleled control of the stage. A charming lady in attendance, Noreen Presser, who sat next to us, said their show was dance music-and it was. Picture dancing the salsa or meringue with your lady or guy to fantastic, smooth Brazilian music and you’ve got the picture.
Among the tunes they performed were “The Girl From Ipanema,” “Caminhos Cruzados,” “Medo De Amar” and “Esperanza Perdida.” On the fourth song, fantastic drummer Paulo Braga did an unusual solo with his hands, sans sticks. His time keeping was nothing short of excellent. As with all the excellent singers and showmen, Nascimento was very gracious to all his musicians, at one point in the set going to all of them, giving each of them a pat and a hug. His voice moved from rhythmic to melodic and his falsetto was rich and precise.
Funny moments happened on stage when a stage hand would take or bring his guitar after every tune. It happened so much, it began to be comic relief to the show. “Dias Azvis,” written by sensational pianist Daniel Jobim, was sang beautifully by dualing vocalists Daniel Jobim and Nascimento. Nascimento sat on the piano stool with Daniel Jobim and they played and sang “Cais” together. They closed with 2 songs, “Nos Bailes Da Vida” and “Marie, Maria.”
Thanks to The LA Philharmonic and Lisa Bellamore for having us there. A shout out to my dear friend Tony Martins, a terrific chef that once worked for The Jacksons. He accompanied us to the show and gave us masterful advice on the art form of Bossa Nova.