It isn't often one gets to hear a top of the line jazz vocalist at a hotel cocktail lounge and restaurant (the great Mabel Mercer comes to mind as one of those rarities), but we've lucked out. Joanna Pascale, one of the best young jazz vocalists, has landed herself a regular weekly gig at the Loews Hotel, at 12th and Market Streets right by the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia's Center City District. This means that all you out-of-towners, as well as locals, can get to hear this fantastic singer and her superb ensemble, usually on Thursday evenings from 6-9pm, but sometimes on other nights as well. You can have a great dinner, hang out at the cocktail bar, or, even better, grab one of the few seats in the small enclave where the group performs and hear the sounds without distraction and with great acoustics.
Ms. Pascale possesses a sophisticated grasp of a broad range of jazz and classical music, and for this setting, she does the best of the jazz standards: Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, etc., etc.with the phenomenal voice, subtle nuances of phrasing, and soulful interpretations that she brought to her debut CD, When Lights Are Low, and delivers at all her live gigs at jazz clubs and concert halls. It is really a listening pleasure to hear her sing; she really shouldn't be missed.
Her backup musicians are among the best in the Philadelphia area. Tim Warfield's tenor and soprano sax reminds me a great deal of Coltrane's accompaniment of Johnny Hartman. Tom Lawton is simply one of the best jazz pianists in the business. Madison Rast is a master of bass lines, and I can't help but think of the great Scott LaFaro when I listen to him. Dan Monaghan is the perfect drummer, if there could be such a thing. His rhythm is steady and unwavering, and his style is as tasteful and sensitive as any vocalist could want behind her. These guys all work with each other frequently, and their ensemble playing is relaxed, consistent, and well-attuned to Ms. Pascale's singing.
Joanna told me that she sometimes has other musicians working with her at the Loews, Lee Smith on bass and Byron Landham on drums, for example. She only peforms with the best, so you won't ever be disappointed. I especially encourage musicians themselves to come hear Ms. Pascale. She is one of those rare and impeccable jazz singers whom serious professionals and aspiring students will deeply appreciate.
Personnel: Joanna Pascale: vocals; Tim Warfield: saxophone; Tom Lawton: piano; Madison Rast: bass; Dan Monaghan: drums