By Ed Kliszus
Mary Stallings at Smoke Jazz Club! This incomparable jazz singer indeed performed with a world-class rhythm section of Emmet Cohen on piano, Peter Washington on bass, and Joe Farnsworth on drums. This combo of especially cool cats can swing, groove, solo, break it down, burn, and lay down a crazy beat.
Confidence, Poise, and Charisma
From the onset, Stallings’s repartée was charming, which began with her explaining that tonight’s experience would be uplifting–that was undoubtedly an understatement. Self-deprecating and droll, Stallings giggled about her age before exuding a captivating gravitas through graceful, refined, and sophisticated interpretations of the songs and words she shared. Confidence, poise, and charisma altogether abounded as the audience was drawn into each song.
Mary Stallings’s gravitas ascended from musical mastery and poignant depth as she revealed interpretive nuances enriched by the sagacity of life experience. Furthermore, her self-assured presence was certainly supported by her voice’s richness, depth, and resonance as she navigated the elaborate melodies, harmonies, and improvisational essentials of jazz, like “scat singing,” with ease. Consequently, Stallings infused each line of musical poetry with meaning, delivering lyrics with impeccable timing while crafting an intimate relationship with her co-artists on stage and a packed room of admirers.
Harmonious Musical Tapestry
Tonight was a true jazz event with ample chance to hear each artist solo and improvise. During unified interactions between Stallings, piano, bass, and drums, songs were superbly executed and characterized by focused listening, rhythmic unity, improvisational interchanges, refinement, and a collective sense of musical accord.
Along with the vocal sophistication and inspiration of Stallings’s lead, the instrumental trio created a vibrant and harmonious musical tapestry. They especially showcased the exquisite refinement of the music and their respective profound artistry. It was altogether an especially swinging, groovin’, and blues night of jazz!
Below was the tonight’s smokin’ lineup from the greatest songs of the America Songbook and jazz canon (in the links, you can hear Mary Stallings perform each piece):
Three Little Words (1930) by Bert Kalmer.
Close Your Eyes (1933) by Bernice Petkere.
Sweet and Lovely (1931) by Gus Arnheim, Charles N. Daniels, and Harry Tobias.
‘Round Midnight (1935) by Thelonious Monk.
Monk’s Dreams (1963) by Thelonious Monk.
I’m Just a Lucky So and So (1945) by Duke Ellington
I Thought About You (1939) by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.
Broadway (1940) by Wilbur H. Bird, Teddy McRae, and Henri Woode.
Mary Stallings at Smoke Jazz Club
Mary Stallings – vocals
Emmet Cohen – piano
Peter Washington – bass
Joe Farnsworth – drums
SMOKE Jazz Club
2751 Broadway (bet West 105th and 106th streets)
New York, NY. 10025
For tickets and information, go to SMOKEJazz.com
Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Amanda Green and Friends, Take Me Back to Manhattan at Chelsea Table and Stage, and Madrigal Music.