mary stallings is about beautiful

Great caberet jazz at the RRAZZ ROOM in San Francisco

Mary Stallings is about beautiful

By Ken Vermes

2-4-12

If you missed the classic era of jazz vocals, then you have a chance to relive the romance, tenderness, and beauty that so many of the great artists delivered.

With Mary Stallings, there is that world and more, as she is a direct link to the time when going to the club, dancing in the dark, or just holding hands while listening to the genius of the American song book, was the thing to do. There is no need to imagine it because Ms. Stallings is your ticket to ride.

During the set at the RRAZZ ROOM Friday, February 3 (she is there through February 5) she mentioned the Lena Horne (who I saw on Broadway as a child) was her influence. But there is a lot more there. For me, it was a chance to see a very musical singer in the tradition of Nancy Wilson, Like Nancy, she has real jazz swing, and loaded feel to her sensibility and a band that highlights her smooth and very alluring vocalizations. On stage with her were the fantastic rhythms of drummer, Akira Tana and bassist, Ron Belcher. And pianist David Udolf, more than held his own.

As someone who has listened intensely to her mentors, including Carmen McRae, Billie Holiday, and so many more, she has developed her own style and phrasings. But she also is a fabulous bandleader, who makes everyone in the group sound good. She accomplishes this by subtle means, a look, a nod and a feel. And boy does that “feel” take you away. For a minute, I imagined sitting in a club on 52nd Street in New York back in the day and sitting next to the Duke, Bird or Diz or maybe Walter Winchell and John Hammond. I knew they would be diggin this.

I had only one argument with her song selection. She did not sing the song, “But Beautiful.” Now for someone like Mary who is celebrating so much that is beautiful, this tune should be her theme.

If I can make one small suggestion to Mary Stallings, who is beautiful in every way, you are so much about what we all need now.

For your beautiful touch, can reach through so much, and lift us up for a long, long while.

This beautiful is so nice to come home to.

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