Big Band Retrospective at The Allen Room

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Emceed by scholar/ vocalist Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein
b.1956
vocalist
, Jazz at Lincoln Center continued its 25th anniversary season in a celebration of the big band era. With music supplied by Vince Giordano
Vince Giordano
Vince Giordano
b.1952
composer/conductor
and the Nighthawks, an ideal orchestra for such a program, Feinstein succeeded in deepening an understanding of the relationship between the bands, their vocalists, and the songwriter/arrangers of the era. Dubbed Swinging with the Big Bands, the evening of June 13, 2013 showcased vocalists Nellie McKay
Nellie McKay
Nellie McKay

piano
,Connie Evingson
Connie Evingson
Connie Evingson

vocalist
and Sachal Vasandani
Sachal Vasandani
Sachal Vasandani

vocalist
, with Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
b.1961
trumpet
performing featured solos.

The show focused on little known ironies and ersatz histories of the era's notable songs. Feinstein traced the lyric evolution of a 1942 offering from Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
and Peggy Lee
Peggy Lee
Peggy Lee
1920 - 2002
vocalist
, "Why Don't You Do Right ,Baby?," from its origin as a 1936 nefarious blues satire by Kansas Joe McCoy to mainstream hit. His account of the development of the 1942 Harry James
Harry James
Harry James
b.1916
trumpet
creation, "Blues and Cantabile," contained key informative commentary. Johnny Green's "Body and Soul," recorded in 1930 by Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
, was cleverly reconstructed, with Marsalis capturing some of Satchmo's pioneering intervallic leaps. The story of how Bobby Troup
Bobby Troup
Bobby Troup
1918 - 1999
piano
snatched a bit of esoterica and turned it into the hit "Girl Talk," for his wife Julie London
Julie London
Julie London
1926 - 2000
vocalist
, was revealing. Vasandani's performance here was a highlight of the show. Reviews of the evolution of Tommy Dorsey
Tommy Dorsey
Tommy Dorsey
1905 - 1956
trombone
megahit "Marie," with its vocalizing from band members, and Jimmy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
1904 - 1957
composer/conductor
's "Green Eyes," rescued from earlier ignominy by Helen O'Connell, were equally enlightening.

Revisionist exploration of jazz history has been one of the primary missions of Jazz at Lincoln Center during its first 25 years. Michael Feinstein's role as director of the Jazz & Popular Song series has been a particularly successful component of this mission and its continuance is vital.

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