By Holli Harms
Birdland Jazz Club on Monday night was packed, every seat taken. All in attendance were there to listen to the incomparable pianist and singer Billy Stritch and astounding vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli celebrate the music of Mel Tormé and Ella Fitzgerald in, Mel and Ella Swing!
The evening started with Stritch singing Mel’s, “Just One of Those Things,” and immediately the room was moving. Stritch took off like a rocket into space and we went with him and most of us wouldn’t come down from the evening for some time. Fingers were snapping and feet tapping, and where we were at the bar, people were up off their barstools moving and swaying. It was that kind of night. A party at Birdland, two masters celebrating two masters. Stravelli started with Ella’s, “I Won’t Dance.” Stravelli’s voice is like waves in the ocean soaring crashing and all the while carrying a strength you do not expect from such a small stature.
The focus was just the two of them Stritch and Stravelli and their small but powerful band: With Stritch on piano, a drummer, and bass player, the music filled the room as if there were more of them. And in a sense there were more, Mel and Ella were there as well. Together they all filled our hearts and souls and left us dancing and singing all the way home; on the subway, the street, up the elevator, and into bed.
The songs all have innocence and humor and right now we need more of that in our lives. It was pure bliss. By the time they got to the duet, “All My Eggs In One Basket” wall to wall smiles stretched across Birdland. Couples were snuggled together in corners and at the tables, and people were dancing in the aisles. Billy Stritch and Gabrielle Stravelli sharing their favorite entertainers with us brought us to that happy place that, right now in the time we are living in, seems to want to take that kind of joy out of the equation.
I have said it before but will say it again. Birdland offers a great price for an incredible evening out in NYC. The music is always perfect. The staff is top-notch and so attentive. The food excellent and the drinks – thanks to our bartender James – were perfect. A meal and wonderful music, you can’t go wrong.
BIRDLAND JAZZ CLUB is located at 315 West 44th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues) in Manhattan. For reservations, please call (212) 581-3080 or visit www.BirdlandJazz.com.
In compliance with New York City rules for indoor activities, Birdland requires proof of vaccination or a verified medical exemption from all customers, staff, and performers.