When in the Big Apple you must drop in to Birdland Jazz and sample some of the city’s best performers. Photos: Stewart Green
Doing The Lineup is a privilege, and I am so grateful to Birdland, Gianni Valenti, and Jim Caruso for giving me a home in which to throw a party every Tuesday. Let’s get to it.
Scott Raneri wowed the crowd with his vocal prowess and an arrangement by the great Fred Barton of BigTime. With Fred on the piano Scott swung us into gear and made me glad I chose him to open the show. Terrific.
Next up a young performer from Oklahoma, Josie Foster, sang and held everyone captive by her warm tone and flexible range. I love seeing new talent and seventeen year old Josie was splendid. Oh my GOODNESS.
Jessica Ann Best, the rising opera star, completely mesmerized us. What a VOICE. Singing Sondheim, the richness and color poured forth, and then at my insistence she sang another song, So in Love, and blew the roof off. Wow. What a gift.
The happy go lucky Tim Sullivan hopped up next, with his comfortable, easy going style. Singing an original song about The Big V, he had us in stitches, with his ringing guitar and mellow tone. Love him. Of course Tim is part of the “Singing Sullivans” the mega talented clan which includes KT Sullivan and Stacy Sullivan, and who were all raised by the wonder that is Elizabeth Sullivan. This beautiful, elegant woman, who son Tim let slip is 91, glided up to the bandstand next and truly swept us away. Accompanying herself and singing an original song she had us feeling our feelings and the tears flowed. She was perfection, and we were all thrilled to be in her presence. Thank you Elizabeth for showing us what a life well lived looks like. BRAVA.
Brad Simmons, our own favorite son, was next and he and the band rocked the joint with a swirling, dancing Stevie Nicks tinged original number. So good.
Oh Harrison Greenbaum, you crazy man! You are so funny, quick and delightful, seriously one of the best comics out there. The audience was delirious with laughter, and I can’t get enough of you. Thanks for kicking ass.
Leslie Carrara-Rudolph!!! Nobody like this brilliant, risk taking performance artist. Her ability to have an idea, let’s say, turn herself into a dog on stage, and actually create an alternate reality with her humor and total commitment, is unparalleled. She is so special. If I could have her every week I would.
The endearing, adorable Ann Talman was next and she charmed the room with a quick visit to Mayberry. She brought Aunt Bea and Claras talent show song, My Home Town, and blended it with the opening whistle of the theme to The Andy Griffith Show. We all whistled right along with her. Marvelous!
To end the night Timothy Connell brought James Followell to play a haunting “Bless the Beasts and the Children”/”Children will Listen”. Tim’s voice is gorgeous and supple, and the arrangement sublime. Stunning.
It was a night of family, friends and fellowship. Artists just getting started and artists who had been creating for seventy years. Each LINEUP is different and last night was all about heart. I love my job.