Paula West At The Oak Room
59 West 44th Street, NY, NY (btw. 5th and 6th Aves.)
Paula West on Vocals
Ben Wolfe on Bass
Bruce Barth on Piano
Rodney Green on Drums
(Paula West Website)
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 4, 2004
Tonight I again dined on sensational shrimp cocktail, grilled salmon and vegetables, and homemade sorbets. Chardonnays and coffee were perfect for the occasion. As usual, Kendall, Host, was extremely helpful. I was quite pleased with the dinner presentation and recommend having dinner and wine, when visiting The Oak Room.
Bruce Barth filled in for Eric Reed, and he was quite a sensation at the keyboard. The first piece, a smooth romantic swing, quickly picked up in volume and rhythm. Paula West sings with “cognac-lined” vocal chords, sultry and rich. Cole Porter never sounded better, nor did Truman Capote’s lyrics. Ms. West barely takes a breath, caressing each note, as Ben Wolfe, on bass, assisted her in a long duet in Pocketful of Miracles. Wolfe ended these songs with a resonant riff.
Long Way from St. Louis opened up more dynamically, and a piece from Triplets of Belleville was laced with Rodney Green’s percussion in a hot, jazzy theme. Barth’s piano riffs were relaxed and rousing. A light, soft swing introduced the finale in a fanciful, less frenzied approach. Anything Goes was performed in the higher octaves, as Ms. West belted this popular song with barely a breath, choosing single notes to slide up and down the scale, like rippling liqueur. The line about Hilton sisters and all their Misters was reminiscent of a recent Off-Broadway musical.
Black ‘n Blue reached to the depths of Ms. West’s abilities, as she lulled the Oak Room into melancholy and memories. Brazil was a fast-paced, syncopated Samba, with prominent bass collaboration and counterpoints. Ms. West held her final notes till they vanished like the lingering sparks on a candle. Stormy Weather was illustrative of Ms. West’s forte, blues and more blues. A mesmerizing ambiance was broken only by the Oak Room lights, which brightened for the accolades.
Paula West and Friend at the Algonquin Hotel