By Victoria L. Dammer
Glamour and the sound of music from the 1920s and ‘30s filled the room at Chelsea Table and Stage this weekend when Alex Mendham and His New Yorkers made their New York debut.
Mendham, the ultra-debonnaire English bandleader, singer, and musician, arrived after his cross-Atlantic voyage on the Queen Mary 2 with his 11-piece jazz orchestra. Flaming red-haired vocalist Allison Young accompanied them, dressed in a retro long gown the color of shimmering teal. Mendham was splendidly clothed in white tie and tails and wore black patent leather shoes, and he brought a series of music from the golden age to an energetic crowd.
Mendham and his orchestra held a residency at London’s Savoy Hotel and played at several iconic venues in the city, including the Ritz Hotel. It didn’t take long for lovers of big band music from around the globe to catch on to this talented young maestro, with New Yorkers getting a taste of his flair to entertain.
The evening opened with Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Stomp, and it got better. Abe Lyman’s 1934 hit Pop! Goes Your Heart, originally sung by Dick Powell, had the guests swaying to the music right away. Several patrons dressed in period-style clothing, and we were treated to Mendham’s remarkable and pleasing voice. Georgia on My Mind, initially performed in 1931 by Native-American jazz singer Mildred Bailey, the Queen of Swing, was superb. It already felt like one should look around the room for Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers.
Mendham played several Bing Crosby tunes like the 1933 hit Cabin in the Pines and Goodnight, Sweetheart. Mendham remarked Crosby started his career at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles with the song Out of Nowhere and mentioned he loved playing in California, where so many artists got a boost to their careers.
Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday performed the 1934 jazz song Stars Fell on Alabama during their careers, and Young’s version was perfect; her voice has an emotional and sweet timbre. Dust on the Moon, performed by Eddy Duchin and his orchestra in 1934, showcased Mendham playing the maracas and had guests dancing the tango. For those who love the classics, this show was truly remarkable.
Giving homage to Duke Ellington, Mendham, and the orchestra played The Mooch, with a wailing clarinet solo and the muted trumpet. In a stirring rendition of the Academy Award-winning song Over the Rainbow, Young thrilled the audience with her style.
When asked what he thought his voice was like, Mendham said, “A little bit of Dick Powell and Al Jolson.” Anyone familiar with those two crooners would agree that after spending the evening with Mendham, we should celebrate that he and his orchestra have gathered many vintage tunes and shared them with us for our enjoyment.
Chelsea Table and Stage present the New York debut of Alex Mendham and His New Yorkers, with vocalist Allison Young.
CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE opens the doors to hospitality, entertainment, and enjoyment every night, featuring state-of-the-art sound and lighting, a 10-seat in-theatre bar, lofted VIP mezzanine for private groups, and table seating for the perfect date night. The ever-changing menu and entertainment schedule means guests never have the same night twice. CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE is located at 152 West 26th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenue), downstairs inside the Hilton New York Fashion District. Purchase tickets at chelseatableandstage.com @chelseatableandstage