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Lincoln Center & City Winery Present The Cynthia Sayer Quartet at the David Rubenstein Atrium
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Lincoln Center & City Winery Present The Cynthia Sayer Quartet at the David Rubenstein Atrium

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner
Ariston Flowers
110 West 17th Street,
NY, NY 10011
Fax: 212.242.5479
Ariston Floral Boutique
425 Lexington Avenue (44th St.)
NY, NY 10017
Fax: 212.867.0607

Target Free Thursdays at Lincoln Center
(Target Free Thursdays Calendar)
& City Winery

Cynthia Sayer and Her Quartet

Cynthia Sayer on Banjo
Charlie Giordano on Accordion
Jared Engel on String Bass
Larry Eagle on Drums

At the
David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center
Frieda and Roy Furman Stage
(Atrium Web Page)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 21, 2014

This Target Free Thursday event, at the Rubenstein Atrium, was packed with jazz fans, many dining at their seats on sandwiches and drinks from the Atrium’s ‘wichcraft, an organic food café. The crowd arrived early to save good seats to view Cynthia Sayer and her rousing quartet. Ms. Sayer, who plays a 4-string banjo, was a founding member of Woody Allen’s New Orleans Jazz Band, and she performs in national and international festivals and concerts, as well as film soundtracks, such as on ukulele in Mr. Allen’s new film, “Magic In the Moonlight”. Onstage with Ms. Sayer was Charlie Giordano on a shiny red accordion. Charlie is a keyboard player in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Also onstage were Jared Engel on string bass and Larry Eagle (who’s in Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions Band) on drums.

The band opened with a New Orleans number, “The Bogalusa Strut”, with Giordano’s great accordion riff. “I Love Paris” followed, with Eagle’s generous drums and rapid rhythms on accordion and banjo. The tempo was swing, and the ensemble sounded like a full, live orchestra, especially in the richness of Giordano’s chords. Cynthia’s original composition, “You Talk Too Much”, was a comedic number about a failed relationship, adorable and entertaining. She sings with clear tones and vibrant personality. An homage to tango, “El Choclo”, captured the tango genre’s mood, with Jared Engel’s sumptuous bass solo. Solo riffs ensued, before they caught up for a fused finale. “I Get Ideas”, originally an Argentine tango, “Adios Muchachos”, on which English lyrics were added, was recorded by Louis Armstrong and also sung by vocalists, like Desi Arnaz on I Love Lucy. Tonight, Cynthia sang it with sassy tango punctuation, adding some comic drama. Kenny Ball’s 60’s hit, “Midnight in Moscow”, followed, with prominent Russian motifs, as Cynthia’s banjo took center stage, before the band went wild. One could just imagine Cossacks stomping along with Larry Eagle’s drum rolls and iconic washboard.

“Say That We’re Sweethearts Again”, a song from Cynthia’s days at Michael’s Pub, was played on the heels of Hank Williams’ country-blues song, “Move It On Over”, with a rousing bass solo. Then Cynthia Sayer impressed the Rubenstein Atrium audience with her interpretation of Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance #4”. The accordion and drums took a break, for this banjo-bass duo performance. This renowned work, with its repetitive, swirling theme, sounded astounding. It ended on a banjo string flourish. “Goody Goody” was next, in a total shift of genre, a 1936 Malneck-Mercer song, originally recorded by Benny Goodman, with Helen Ward, vocalist. It was played here in retro big band style, with pizzazz. Next was “You Always Hurt the One You Love”, with each musician getting a showcased solo. Larry Eagle’s drum riff, and, for that matter, all the riffs, were rousing and rambunctious. Cynthia ended the Lincoln Center gig with the 1923, “What’ll I Do”, played by the band with poignancy and pathos, and “Dark Eyes”, a dizzy, dervish, delightful song.

Jared Engel on Bass, Cynthia Sayer on Banjo
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Charlie Giordano on Accordion, Larry Eagle on Drums
Jared Engel on Bass, Cynthia Sayer on Banjo
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Larry Eagle on Drums
Cynthia Sayer, Jared Engel
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at