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Veteran cabaret singer Leslie Orofino has been performing with her show Moonlight Cocktails at such prominent Big Apple watering holes as the Hotel Algonquin's Oak Room for some time now. Encouraged by success, she has taken the production into the recording studio, with this CD the result. After just a few words, Orofino immediately reminds one of the grand dame of cabaret, the wonderful Elisabeth Welch who was performing into her 90's (!), becoming the Benny Carter of cabaret. While there are similarities with Welch and other prominent performers of this genre, there are differences. Critical to a cabaret singer is the selection of the play list. It should have tunes whose lyrics help the cabaret singer achieve his/her most critical task, that of a story teller. That is why so often they do songs that aren't familiar, but which have great story lines. With a few exceptions, Orofino sticks with well-known classic standards whose stories have been told countless times before. That means the singer must bring something special to them to justify their inclusion. Orofino, while delivering them with dedication and sincerity (lots of sincerity), does not put a unique imprimatur on them. True there are a couple of rarely heard tunes, such as "Blue Fool" cleverly medleyed with the well known "Blue Moon". Second, cabaret is not just all about melancholy and sentimentality. Humor, often sly and double entendre, is an important part of the craft and that's missing from this session. There are some engaging arrangements by Ross Patterson, such as "It's Only a Paper Moon" done with a Latin beat. Bur Orofino falls into that class of cabaret performer whom you have to see on stage or in a club to fully appreciate her talents, which are considerable.
Track Listing: I Wished on the Moon; I'm Beginning to See the Light; Blue Fool/Blue Moon; It's only a Paper Moon; Moonlight Cocktail; My Foolish Heart; Firefly; Moondance; Is It Hot in Here; Full Moon at Half Price; Down with Love; Old Devil Moon; What a Little Moonlight Can Do; Let's Face the Music and Dance; Heart and Soul
Personnel: Leslie Orofino - Vocal; Ross Patterson - Piano/Arrangements; John Loehrke - Bass; Rex Benincasa - Percussion; Aaron Heick - Tenor Sax/Flute
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.