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August 26, 2009

LORNA LUFT - A MAJOR TALENT


LEE HARTGRAVE REVIEWS
August 27. 2009

LORNA LUFT – SPARKLING NON-STOP PLEASURE

GUARANTEED! – THIS SHOW IS THE MOST EXHILARATING EVENING YOU’LL HAVE.
Lorna Luft (Judy Garland’s Daughter) came to the stage in a smart looking Tux and the highest stilettos I have ever seen. How does she manage to stay on them for so long? Luft starts the show off with a fabulous rendition of “You Don’t Know Me” – and it was a blast. You actually could feel the heat on your face.

The whole show is bursting at the seams with familiar songs like “Let’s do it” (she even sings the verse), “Who Will Buy” from the musical Olivier. Her talent has really blossomed. Luft shines like never before in this fantastic collection of songs that range from love, broken hearts and the hilarious. You’re gonna love the “Guys and Dolls” medley. It’s like listening to the entire show. By the way, Luft has appeared in the musical, and it’s easy to see and hear why.

The tribute to Bert Bacharach was beyond fantastic. It was a vocal roller coaster ride. She is the likeliest inheritor of her mothers talent. What an amazing range Luft has.

Luft also gave us a wonderful tribute to Peter Allen, who she says was her best friend since she was twelve. The Talented Allen died and Luft still thinks of him all the time. Allen was also married to Liza Minnelli. Really touching and soul wrenching is Luft singing Peter Allen’s “Don’t Cry Out Loud.” Wow! It almost blew the roof off of the Rrazz Room. I know --because my hair was standing on end. All four strands.

Look for a new C.D. featuring the songs of Peter Allen sung by Luft. Sony records asked her to do it. Can’t wait to hear it.

During the show Luft reveals little inside things about growing up in a house with celebrities who came and went constantly. “As you may have guessed” she said – “Our house was not like ‘Ozzie and Harriet!” Yeh, I think we kinda figured that.

Luft’s vocals are just terrific and they are nuanced enough not to be copies of any other singer including her mother. Oh, if you close your eyes, you can hear the influence of Judy, but make no mistake about it; Luft is not imitating her mother or her sister Liza. She makes the music her own.

EXTRA: IN THE AUDIENCE WAS DARLENE LOVE OF MOVIES/TV/STAGE AND 'THE BLOSSOMS FAME.' YOU MAY REMEMBER THE HIT "HE'S A REBEL".
Love Cheered and waved her hands to Luf't's singing -- obviously having a great time.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! – (highest rating) -trademarked-

YOU CAN CATCH LORNA LUFT THROUGH THIS SUNDAY AT THE RRAZZ ROOM AT THE HOTEL NIKKO (At Mason and O’Farrell) It’s a gorgeous room and a grand Lobby shows you the way to the room) www.therrazzroom.com.

(((Lee Hartgrave contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and produced a long-running Art Segment on PBS KQED)))

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MORE REVIEWS: www.beyondchron.org.

August 21, 2009

KIM NALLEY NAILS IT IN BILLY HOLIDAY TRIBUTE!


Lee Hartgrave reviews
August 21, 2009


KIM NALLEY TRIBUTE TO BILLIE HOLIDAY - Nalley makes her real – Pennies From Heaven, Them Their Eyes and My Man are just a few of the songs that are associated with Jazz Singer Billie Holiday. Nalley doesn’t imitate Holiday, but leaves a Ghostly presence of the famous, but troubled star.

“Mon Homme” the popular song known in the U.S. as “My Man” was originally composed by Jacques Charles, Channing Pollack, Albert Wilemetz and Maurice Yvain. The song was popularizied in the English speaking world in the 1920’s with the 1921 recording by Ziegfeld Follies singer Fanny Brice. The song was a huge hit for Brice and the record eventually earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for Brice. Brice’s version was the standard ballad. It was Billie Holliday, who introduced a jazz/blues record of “My Man.” Holliday’s version was also extremely successful and many thought that she was the first one to record it. In Europe the version of the song by Edith Piaf was the big hit of the same song in France.

Nalley not only sings the songs associated with Holliday, but she gives a running commentary on the Star (Holliday) who went from being a prostitue to becoming a popular recording star who also sang with the Count Basie band and the Artie Shaw band.

According to Nalley, Holliday didn’t care for the traveling part of the job with the Shaw band. She was a New Yorker and a Black singer in the south did not sit well with audiences. She couldn’t even use the bathrooms at the clubs – she had to relieve herself in the grass. Holliday was not happy and left the band to return to New York where she blossomed and began to write her own songs.

Her career was cut short as she played small dives around the country. I once was walking down a rundown area in Chicago and saw this dumpy bar with a sign on the Window that said Billie Holliday tonight. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it. And that is how it all ended for her. She was broke – she needed to eat and feed her biggest problem – Drugs. She died of Liver Failure.

Nalley gives us a great snapshot of this important Jazz Singer. Her descriptions of what happened during Holliday’s ups and downs is downright fascinating. And the her exciting renditions may not sound just like Holliday, but her versions have that underlying feeling that reminds of Holliday on “God Bless The Child”, Tain’t Nobodies Business”, “Them their Eyes’ and one of Hollidays biggest hits “Strange Fruit.” Nally’s easygoing style on the stage is infectious. You can’t help but like her and appreciate her varied talents. She even sang two versions of one of the songs, as Holliday would do it – and how Ella Fitzgerald would do it. It’s amazing. Same song, – yet so different.

All in All – Kim Nalley is Electrifying! The show is compelling, heartbreaking and amusing. Don’t even think of missing it at The Rrazz Room at the Nikko Hotel on the main beautiful lobby. Times Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 7pm. Also there is a late show with Kim Nalley and Rhoda Scott at 10pm tomorrow (Sat) 10 pm.

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

FOR INSTANT UPDATES: www.twitter/famereporter

MORE REVIEWS: www.beyondchron.org.

August 19, 2009

BUDDY GRECO SWINGS AT THE RRAZZ ROOM

LEE HARTGRAVE REVIEWS
August 19, 2009

BUDDY GRECO -=- SURE FIRE ENTERTAINMENT!

THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME

George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin wrote the song in 1937. It was introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film, “Shall We Dance.” Many others have recorded the song – Billy Holiday, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Anita O’Day, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Diana Krall. Others have also covered the song – but having heard them all, the best and most convincing version I’ve heard so far is by Buddy Greco.

Greco, who was a friend of Sinatra’s, makes the words really mean something: Here is a sample of the words that require great sincerity: With a swing beat – he beats all the rest. He doesn’t yawn his way through the lyrics.

“the way you wear your hat,
the way you sip your tea,
the way your hold your knife, the way we danced till three.”
(each line ends with “no, no they can’t take that away from me.)

The story is that even if lovers part – the memories can’t be forgotten.

With a Latin beat, Greco really turned the audiences heads into bobble heads. They were twisting and turning in their seats along with the music. Watch Out! Keeping up with Greco could give you whiplash. He may be 83 yrs old, but sure looks like he is in his 60’s and moves like he is still 35. He is also a master wizard at the piano. It’s an extra treat that never plays out. Especially on the ending, when he plays the music of the world wide hit “MacArthur Park.” Greco’s arrangement is absolutely beautiful and intricate. Oh, by the way he has a recording out of MacArthur Park (CD) with the London Symphony Orchestra. He and his Son (on the drums) go at each other with relish. What a fantastic finish to a superb evening that you hate to see end!

A big surprise was Lezlie Anders, a singer that was discovered by Sinatra. “He was so impressed with her singing, that he took me to a really small club on the outskirts of Las Vegas to see her. Now I want you to meet Mrs. Greco. She is gorgeous.” – he said.
And – so she is -- and Anders (wife #5) is a marvelous singer. Anders sang about seven songs. There was a couple of Peggy Lee songs, “Moments” and the classic “Fever”. Both renditions were sensational.

Greco ended with a swellagant rending of the Fab “The Lady is a Tramp”. It was a crackling star performance.

Greco will be at the Rrazz room tonight and tomorrow (Aug 18, 19) at 8Pm. At the Hotel Nikko.

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and produced a long-running Art Segment on PBS KQED)))

For instant updates all the time: twitter.com/famereporter

More reviews: www.beyondchron.org







August 1, 2009

MARK NADLER - GERSWINS - JOHN KELLY - JONI MITCHELL























Pictured: Mark Nadler (Left) John Kelly as Joni Mitchell



Lee Hartgrave Reviews
August 1st, 2009



MARK NADLER – MR ENERGY

JOHN KELLY SINGS JONI MITCHELL

SIZZLING! THAT’S THE ONLY THING THAT YOU CAN SAY ABOUT MARK NADLER’S EXCITING EVENING THAT BRINGS NEW INSIGHTS INTO THE LIFE OF IRA GERSHWIN.

He dazzles the eyes and engages our brain with his musical prowess as Nadler performs vocal miracles that really resonate with feeling on every George and Ira Gershwin’s’ wonderful music and haunting lyrics. What a master Ira Gershwin was with lyrics, and Nadler’s every gesture and glance are a delight as he takes us down memory lane of this fantastic musical mini-musical biography.

The entire evening is smart and at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious.

I especially liked the story about “Midnight Madness” which went through many incarnations with different lyrics and name changes, until Ira Gershwin was happy.

The musical treats (12 or more) included “Someone to Watch Over Me, “Love Is Sweeping The Country”, “It’s a New World”, and the ‘Star is Born’ hit (music by Harold Arlen, Lyrics by Ira Gershwin) – “The Man Who Got Away”. You know what? – It sounds better sung by a man.

There are so many great and bright things about this show that it would take millions of words to describe them all. But take my word for it. This is an engaging, first-rate enticing evening at the Rrazz Room.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE (highest rating) –trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Datebook and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))


JOHN KELLY SINGS JONI MITCHELL

ON THE SAME EVENING AT THE RRAZZ ROOM JOHN KELLY TOTALLY AMAZES WITH HIS ‘REALLY RINGS TRUE’ IMPRESSION OF FAMED FOLK SINGER JONI MITCHELL.

Kelly gets to the soul of Mitchell. His portrayal is smart honest and really rings true. Plus, Kelly is ‘Very Sexy’ in and out of costume.

Kelly mesmerizes on “Chelsea Morning”, “Shadows and Light”, “For the Roses”, “Shine” and “Night Ride Home”. He gets every mannerism and quirk just right. Yep, Kelly even surprises us with a quick change of appearance near the end of the show. He throws out the “The Last Kiss” to the audience who already adores him. And their hoots and hollers don’t stop during the entire show.

It is a remarkable evening. Its impact could not be more affecting. He certainly well matched with Joni Mitchell, who keeps in touch with Kelly, to tell him about a new song that she has just written.

Kelly’s show is achingly intense and passionately delivered. But, there is also subtle humor in his intimate show. He is very gifted and deserves the attention that he gets. If you have not seen him and his show and surely hope that you will. Kelly is ‘Luminescent!”

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (Highest Rating) –trademarked-

BOTH SHOWS ARE AT THE RRAZZ ROOM AT THE HOTEL NIKKO.

http://www.therrazzroom.com/.

Updates: http://www.twitter.com/famereporter.

MORE REVIEWS: http://www.beyondchron.org/