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Dida Pelled Trio: Aquebogue, NY, February 12, 2012

Dan Bilawsky By

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Dida Pelled Trio
Long Island Winterfest
Palmer Vineyards
Aquebogue, NY

February 12, 2012

Long Island's East End is world renowned for it's wine country and high-end lifestyle, but few visitors ever choose to experience either one during the winter. While the wine cognoscenti have come throughout the year, the general public usually waited for the warmer weather to trek out to the vineyards—but that began to change several years ago. The Long Island Winterfest came into existence as a way to combat an early-year dip in patronage, and the festival has been using jazz as their primary marketing tool for the past four years. Various wineries play host to different jazz groups on Saturdays and Sundays between mid-February and late March, giving people an added incentive to visit the East End.

While some heavy-hitter instrumentalists, like bassist Nilson Matta or trumpeterAlex Sipiagin, may prove to be heavy draws when they each have their day, the 2012 program seems to favor the female vocalists. Top shelf talent, from Amy London to Lauren Kinhan to Amy Cervini, will be sharing their music at different points throughout the festival, and the opening weekend provided an opportunity to admire the skills of another vocalist who has "rising star" written all over her.

Israeli singer-guitarist Dida Pelled and her trio mates occupied the small, tavern-like tasting room of Palmer Vineyards and presented two sets of music that, while falling on few ears, managed to charm those who were present and eager to listen. Pelled's show, which contained standards, originals, blues-based numbers, and a touching Randy Newman cover ("Losing You"), highlighted her dual talents, while also spotlighting the solo skills of pianist Art Hirahara, taking on the role of organist with his Roland X6.

The first set opened up with "Blossom's Blues," which immediately showed off her kittenish vocals, and the band quickly moved into Billie Holiday-territory with "Foolin' Myself." Pelled followed this up with "Aching Head," an original with a country blues-meets-Bob Dylan quality, before giving a musical nod to Sean Penn's guitar-playing Emmet Ray persona from Woody Allen's Sweet And Lowdown (Sony Pictures Classics, 1999) with "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles." The first set concluded with a pleasing take on "'Deed I Do" and a performance of "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad" that got the audience in on the singing action, but Dida was hardly done at that point.

Despite dealing with a small, occasionally disrespectful audience which contained several people more interested in basking in the post-consumption glow from their vino, and/or talking over the music, Pelled produced a second set that offered plenty to love. While the young leader delivered several originals, with "If It's Me You're After" proving to be the real standout of the bunch, she also made sure to include a pair of pieces from her debut CD—Plays And Sings (Red, 2011). "After You've Gone," which was a highlight on the album, proved to be almost as good in person, and Horace Silver's "Calcutta Cutie" showed off the ensemble chemistry between Pelled, Hirahara, and drummer Ziv Ravitz.

While Pelled is still flying under the radar in many ways, an artist with her talents isn't likely to stay hidden for long. She plays and sings from her soul, and shines all the while as she does it.

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