206

Shades Of Harlem Delivers Harlem Mystique Onstage

Daniel Kassell By

Sign in to view read count
SHADES OF HARLEM has that Harlem Mystique cultivated during the Cotton Club Era
Producer Bob Blume (Drama Desk Awards) announced, "It's a hot Saturday night for a very special show". (at APAP-Association of Performing Arts Presenters Convention, January 11, 2003). "We took over Bridges here at the New York Hilton to showcase" SHADES OF HARLEM. "Special guests in the audience tonight: From Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1934 - Ludie Jones, 87 and still working! And just recently retired - Ruby Riley, 87. And finally an original Cotton Club gal, who was as also in Stormy Weather - Juanita Boisseau, 91"!

After the performance I asked Juanita (What an exotic name, you should see her gorgeous complexion now and imagine what she must have looked like to those Harlem men 50 years ago) if she knew guitarist Al Casey when he played with Fats Waller? She replied, "I put Fats on the train (in 1943), he said he wanted to get home to New York for some home cookin'." (Mr. Waller developed pneumonia on that train and died before reaching Harlem). "I was also in the line in a Fats movie short, one of the Jones sisters was sittin' on the piano."


The musical revue included "A Train-the best way to get to Harlem", in which pianist Frank Owens added just the right Strayhorn flavor that Duke Ellington admired. Ty Stephens (Sophisticated Ladies) pranced and emphasized those 30's Cotton Club vaudeville mannerisms dressed in white tailcoat with white tux slacks. Jerre Wade (Creator of Shades of Harlem) and Branice McKenzie (Director, Celebrate Kwanzaa.) explained why an errant man had "the right key but the wrong keyhole" then how he was "do'in' it the wrong way". All three lined up for a theatrically choreographed "Don't Mean a Thing If . . .". And if you have to ask "what" this show is not for you unless you want to find out why they were having so much fun in Harlem. More than a dozen other tunes make it a full theatrical "Cotton Club" musical.


After a delightfully happy reprise of the title song and much applause Producer Bill Spence (Chanel) reported that many presenters had expressed interest. "Because the show hasn't been seen in New York for over ten years, an audition video was shot during a special industry performance at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in November 2002, that is being edited to one hour to interest casinos."

(C)1/11/03 Dan Kassell
All Rights Reserved
Go to ShadesofHarlem.com to learn more and discover their future performing schedule.


Shop

More Articles

Read Panama Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "London Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews London Jazz Festival 2016
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "2016 Hope College Jazz Organ Summit" Live Reviews 2016 Hope College Jazz Organ Summit
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 28, 2016
Read "Midge Ure at Revolution Music Hall" Live Reviews Midge Ure at Revolution Music Hall
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: October 8, 2016
Read "WDR Jazz Fest 2016" Live Reviews WDR Jazz Fest 2016
by Phillip Woolever
Published: March 8, 2016
Read "Enjoy Jazz 2016" Live Reviews Enjoy Jazz 2016
by John Kelman
Published: November 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!