James Moody, Saxophone and Flute
David Hazeltine, Piano
Todd Coolman, Bass
Adam Nussbaum, Drums
Janis Siegel, Guest Vocalist
315 West 44th Street, NYC
Gianni Valenti, Owner
Tarik Osman, Manager
By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 14, 2003
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
What could be lovelier on Valentine's Day, than to hear Janis Siegel, of Manhattan Transfer fame, sing "Love is the Tender Trap" with the brilliant, James Moody on Saxophone, along with Adam Nussbaum on soft drums, David Hazeltine on romantic piano, and Todd Coolman on soulful bass. This was Moody's Valentine to the sold-out crowd at tonight's second set at the warm and vibrant Birdland. But, before Ms. Siegel appeared, Moody entertained the crowd with his wild saxophone and his often, humorous asides and jokes that were spliced into his set to keep the mood lighthearted. Beginning with "Last Train from Overlook", the piano and bass were well blended, as Moody and the drums grabbed our attention, and then Moody stepped off stage to allow Hazeltine to play an enticing, solo piano. Suddenly, we knew why trains were in the title, as the band built the rhythm and volume to imitate the train chugging along with Moody as the screeching and slowing train, arriving at the station. Moody sang, and "Pennies from Heaven" was divine. There were playful passages throughout this set, with the relaxed and friendly attitude of the entire band. At one point, Moody used a little Harry Belafonte song to express his versatility.
There was a soft, mellower piece, including the exquisite brushing of the drums, alone with the warm bass, in a cohesive and collaborative passage. Then Moody took over with solo sax, and he sounded like an entire orchestra! Moody can evoke almost any sound or combinations of sounds on his sax, as if it's an extension of himself. He clearly is in command of his musicians and of his music. When Moody switches to flute, one forgets about the sax, as the range and renditions are so inspiring that we are drawn into the moment. He made his flute whisper, just before the drums, bass, and piano took off like a hurricane had blown onto the stage with lightning speed and wild, but splendid cacophony.
Ms. Siegel sang mostly without the presence of the saxophone. With an extremely melodic piano, Ms. Siegel softly entered our hearts with "Come Home to Me", which followed "Love is the Tender Trap". She has one of the purest and strongest voices, which can carry perfect pitch and mellifluous melody, almost effortlessly. She was dressed in an elegant red dress for this holiday, and the audience was mesmerized by this gorgeous song. Then, miraculously, all the musicians left the stage, except Hazeltine, who provided the key for Ms. Siegel to sing, A Capella, "I Wish I Could Be Your Valentine". This was an extremely emotional song about being alone on Valentine's Day, and she continued to play with our hearts, as we listened to hers. In "I Wish You Love", Ms. Siegel began A Capella, and then the entire band slowly entered the song, in a loosely knit group, as Ms. Siegel progressed to scat styled singing, followed by her vocal imitation of Moody's saxophone.
I loved Ms. Siegel's music. I loved these musicians. And, I always love Birdland. Happy Valentine's Day.
Birdland Candid Photos
by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 14, 2003
James Moody Onstage
Maia Nussbaum, Drummer's Daughter, and James Moody
Lucia Casagrande (At Front Desk), Gianni Valenti (Owner), Enzo Capua (Guest)
Adam Nussbaum, Drummer, and Maia
James, The Bartender
Dr. Todd Coolman, Bassist
David Hazeltine, Pianist