“Carole J. Bufford”… Remember that name people, because this woman has the makings for greatness.
Winner of the Nightlife, Bistro and BroadwayWorld Award for Outstanding Vocalist, Carole J. Bufford qualifies as someone who is “Most Wanted” in the cabaret and jazz scene. Having travelled around the U.S. and London wowing audiences and critics alike, she now finds herself in the quaint Metropolitan Room in New York City, singin’ about the blues.
The first thing I noticed about Carole J. Bufford, besides the beautiful blue sequined dress that embraces all time periods, was her poise. Don’t get me wrong her singing was incredible, but I had expected that. What surprised me were the moments between the songs. The big, infectious grin that greeted every (highly deserved) round of applause or the short but sweet (or sassy, or funny) remark used to introduce the next song. And then the piano and bass would swell and Carole J. Bufford would do exactly what she came to do, put on an intimate show.
The second I heard her sing I knew I was in for something special. As someone who frequently feels like I was born in the wrong generation, I was excited to explore a genre of music that I am not very familiar with. And boy am I glad I chose Carol J. Bufford to lead the way. As we maneuvered through the 17-song set list, Carole proved she could be sultry, moving, witty, badass and “show stopping”. Pitch perfect vocals aside, it was her ability to get completely lost in the song, yet still connect with the audience, that kept me enthralled. With each song came a new character who believed, with every inch of her being, the words she sang. And she sang about it all: nostalgia, crime, love, spinach…
Addressing the backbone of the show, I applaud Ian Herman (Musical Director & Arranger) and Tom Hubbard (Bass) for masterfully filling the room with that inherent sound of the blues. I also commend special guest Danny Gardner who was able to create music and mood with just a wood board, a glass and his body. For me personally, a song is not fully blues if there are no instruments involved, and these men definitely brought that special ingredient to the mix with style.
I feel obligated to note that while I appreciated the intimacy of the Metropolitan Room, I did not enjoy how cramped I felt (the kind of cramped that ends in conception). Additionally, as someone who had her chair facing opposite the stage, I spent the majority of the show with my head turned over my shoulder (luckily, Carole J. Bufford is the type of performer worth twisting your neck for). But in all seriousness, anyone who gets claustrophobic or needs more space for any reason should say so when making a reservation.
Across the board Carole J. Bufford is a world-class performer. She has the voice, the stage presence and above all the je ne sais quoi that any leading lady needs in show biz. You can tell she is at a point in her fame where she still genuinely, whole-heartedly appreciates her audience. A quality I hope never fades because as I said, this woman has the makings for greatness.
Carole J. Bufford: Shades of Blue will run Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. Produced by Scott Siegel and Co-Created by Scott Siegel and Carol J. Bufford. Tickets are $20 with a two-drink minimum ($115 for VIP Gold Package). Reservations can be made at metropolitanroom.com or by phone at 212-206-0440. The Metropolitan Room is located at 34 West 22nd Street.