Metropolitan Room New York, NY
Could it be, yes it could, something’s coming... a statuesque redhead and founding member of Manhattan Transfer, Laurel Masse opened her set at the Metropolitan Room with Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim’s "Something’s Coming" and at that moment you were enveloped in the musical arms of a great singer. She is a brilliant jazz musician. Yes, some of the songs are familiar but you never heard the transformations this remarkable four-octave vocalist brings to the table. With a relaxed and assured presence, Laurel‘s style is a combination of quiet intensity and playful fun. Tex Arnold, on piano, is also arranger for the show’s songs (except the opening number), with Tom Hubbard on bass and Richard De Rosa on drums. This joyous, soulful and graceful singer gives us Brooks Bowman’s ‘"East of the Sun," scat and all, followed by "Once in a Million Moons" (Jerome Kern/Yip Harburg) paired with Brazilian songwriters Nelson Cavaquinho & Guilherme de Brito’s "Folhas Secas."
Lyricist Jeff Breithaupt was in the audience as Laurel presented his beautiful ballad and new addition to her repertoire "The Right Thing." A Noir Medley consisting of "Blue Pacific Blues" (Lee/Washington); "Pete Kelly’s Blues" (Heindorf/Cahn); "Laura" (Raksin/Mercer) and "I’ll Cry Tomorrow" (North/Mercer) provided love’s lament.
‘What I am is a dreamer of big, heroic, romantic dreams and I think I can conquer the world if I can get someone to open the jars‘- her words leading into Whiting/Mercer’s "Have You Got Any Castles, Baby?" Well, she conquered us!
Favorite ballad "My Ideal" (Whiting/Robin/Case) was next . Tex Arnold’s "Burcham Woods" (an instrumental), was ‘sung’ la, la, la, ah, ah, ah by Laurel who said this music was like Paris, November and a cello which she proceeds to bring to life with her vocal instrument sans words. "Blue Rondo" ( a la Turq ) (Brubeck/Crofut/Masse) brought the house down, followed by "Can’t
Teach My Old Heart New Tricks" (Jerry Herman).
Poised, sure of herself and cuddled in the warmth of an appreciative audience that included Ann Hampton Callaway, Michele Brourman and friend/director Wendy Lane Bailey, she sang Chris Thile’s "Stay Away" – a uniquely personal moment.
The set concluded with Jerry Herman’s "It Only Takes a Moment" to on-going cheers and applause bringing this gracious lady back to encore an Appalachin folk song "Black Crow" acapella. Not enough for this audience, she encored a second time with "Sermonette (Love One Another)."
It’s not too late but if you miss Laurel Masse this time, be sure she’s at the top of your must see list when next she appears here in New York.
January 25, 2008