On the heals of my CD release shows came the JaLaLa NY debut. I was a bit looney trying to shift gears so quickly and prepare for not one, but two programs where NY venues were the highlight, but somehow I did it and in fact, we did it!
With all of our crazy schedules we found time to get the group out there, finally settling on The Egg in Albany and Birdland this last June. We didn’t have nearly the rehearsal time we wanted, but being the gung ho pros we are, we marched out on that stage and made some music. Where nerves and foibles occurred, humor and musicianship righted the way. The audiences were game and we really had a lot of fun.
Our trio, made up of the incomparable Yaron Gershovsky on piano, Steve LaSpina on bass and Deric Dickens on drums were really swinging. We did much of our Mercer repertoire and added quite a bit of JaLaLa’s other music we had been developing over the years. Some charts were so new, we were still reading lyrics the night of the gigs. Nothing like setting some high goals. One of the tunes in fact was “It’s Sand, Man”—an adaptation of the Lambert, Hendricks and Ross arrangement. Good thing we did it because unbeknownst to us, Jon Hendricks showed up to our sold out Birdland set. Janis and I spotted him as he arrived during the opening number and we shared an inquisitive eye about whether we should ask him to join us on the tune without having discussed it with him prior. While this question hung in the air, we were happy to have our special guest Lew Soloff sit in on two tunes—“Riding on the Moon” and “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby.” He was so fantastic and really got the room buzzing. Our debut of the Queen tune “Killer Queen” in 3/4 time came off well and our medley “The Honeymoon Suite” was a real crowd pleaser. Janis made the room crazy with her versions of “Jeepers Creepers” and “Midnight Sun” and Laurel made us swoon with “Moon River” and her a capella Bach piece.
We closed our set with “It’s Sand, Man” and decided we’d see if Jon wanted to join us and did he ever! He sang the head and all the bits in between. He took a ridiculous solo and then the three of us chicks took some, too. No pressure. But when the energy is that kinetic, it’s all good. He was utterly charming, the room went crazy and we got to really celebrate one of our great jazz heroes.
All in all, it was a wonderful two nights of music and has really encouraged us to start booking the next JaLaLa run. Thanks to all of you who came out!!
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