In New York City, there's Radio City, the Blue Note, Birdland, and many other fine venues. Each has its own vibe and Big Apple flavor. In Lincoln, Nebraska there's the Rococo Theatera gorgeously restored 1920s theater with a slick, small club ambience where vocalist Jackie Allen
and her mates chose to record an evening's performance. The result? A Romantic Evening with Jackie AllenLive at the Rococo
an album that has all the intimacy, groove, and taste that not only lives up to its billing, but also generates that undefinable "You Are There" (or should have been) appeal.
Allen and crew brilliantly perform 10 selections, almost all of which are associated with other well-known vocal artists. And, whether it is her take on material from Billie Holiday
, Paul Simon
, Burt Bacharach
, or Carly Simon, et al, Allen uniquely reworks their music and puts a hip sheen on old shoes. She accomplishes that here both with her superb vocal instrument and her neat arranging and reharm chops. She's is a confident singer, a risk-taking lyric interpreter who shades and caresses linesones which we have heard innumerable times with intricacy, sincerity and "sleight of heart."
Allen launches the show by swinging her way through Holiday's "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" and dives into other waters with a sultry, exotic take on "Lazy Afternoon." A funky-hip arrangement of Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful" is a highlight. Allen's word work is at its best as she does it sassy on Smokey Robinson's hit, "The Way You Do the Things You Do." Her dynamic flexibility and range of emotional colors are superb on a beautifully-rendered (and rarely recorded) "Day Dream," "This Guy's in Love with You," and a samba take on "My Funny Valentine." Allen's tasty closer, Carly Simon's Bond movie theme, is a bossa-flavored accolade on which Allen has you believing.
Saxophonist Bob Sheppard
, brought in from his busy duties in L.A., adds more than just accompaniment. The guy has a knack for working superbly and tastefully -with vocalists and does so again here on all his axes. Pianist Ben Lewis and John Moulder's guitar offer superb support from start to finish and Allen's husband and longtime playing partner, bassist Hans Sturm, along with drummer Dane Richeson are restrained perfection throughout the evening. This is a superb, highly-engaged team of Kings framing an Ace. A Romantic Evening with Jackie Allen -Live at the Rococo
is a marvelous way to spend one, regardless of where you are musically or geographically. Set that GPS for "Rococo Theater Lincoln, NE," sit back and enjoy.
What a Little Moonlight Can Do; Day Dream; Lazy Afternoon; You Are So Beautiful; The Way You
Do the Things You Do; Everything I've Got; Still Crazy After All These Years; My Funny Valentine;
This Guy's In Love With You; Nobody Foes It Better.
Jackie Allen: vocals; Bob Sheppard: tenor and soprano saxophone and flute; John Moulder:
guitars; Ben Lewis: keyboards; Hans Sturm: double bass; Dane Richeson: drums and percussion.