No sooner were we done at The Salon, when we had to head over to the Hilton for our next APAP showcase. We hopped in a cab, prayed the sound equipment was working tonight, and made our way to the big convention. Not only was it a huge display of music, it was also a great hang!! We spent time with fellow Canadians Dave Restivo, George Koller, Larnell Lewis, and the lovely Laila Biali (who is now based in NYC, so it was so good to spend some time with her and hear her incredible music!) We all did our showcases and cheered each other on, like the good Canadians we are. The response was great, and we met several NY-based singers who were all quite appreciative of what we did. As for the other results: we’ll see what happens and will keep fingers crossed!
Our official showcasing was done, but there was no rest yet, because we had more work to do the next day. After some walking around, visiting interesting places in the neighbourhood of our hotel, and a wonderful celebratory meal at a fabulous Italian restaurant (DeGrezia’s on 50th and 3rd) we headed to Birdland for another open mic. Birdland is a famous and well-respected New York Jazz mainstay, featuring the best of the best in the Jazz world. Every Monday night, the venue becomes a theatre / Cabaret room, including an early show from bigger-named artists (that night it was Jane Monheit) and a later open mic show known as Jim Caruso’s Cast Party.
Caruso is a true entertainer: a Tony Award winner, a highly touted crooner with a great sense of swing, and one helluva sense of humour! Each week, he and a house band, including the incredible pianist Billy Stritch, welcome a host of Cabaret and Theatre artists (many of whom appear regularly on Broadway or in London’s West End) and the audience is treated to a wide variety of performers. Speaking of the audience, you never know who is going to be there!
On past occasions, Lucie Arnaz and Lisa Lambert (Drowsy Chaperone) were in attendance. On this night, the Grande Dame of Cabaret and Jazz, Ms Marilyn Maye was in the crowd! If you don’t know Marilyn Maye, you really should!! At 86 years of age, she is still in fine form, with a fabulous voice, fierce sense of swing, and wicked sense of humour!! Ella Fitzgerald once called her “the greatest white female singer in the world”, and on that night, the whole audience got a taste of her greatness. Guest host Klea Blackhurst (hilarious, by the way) invited Ms Maye to the stage and she graced us with a couple of numbers. She still had it!
We were eventually called to the stage and did a rousing rendition of “Cloudburst / Oleo”, which the audience seemed to enjoy … so much so that we were asked to do another song immediately after (something which RARELY happens at Cast Party). We went into Broadsway Bacharach, with bassist Sadi Zain and drummer Daniel Glass trying their best to play along with us without the help of any music. All in all, it went well and people seemed to enjoy it. One of those people was Marilyn Maye, who was gracious enough to pass on some kind words and chat with us a little, following the show. We told her we were going to see Annie Ross (of Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross – who did “Cloudburst”) at the Metropolitan Room the next night, and she said she’d call and make sure Annie heard us sing. What a gracious and classy lady!
The following day was our last full day in New York. We’d extended the weekend so as to be able to attend Cast Party and also visit the Metropolitan Room to see the legendary Annie Ross, the latter being our plan for the final evening in town. We each did our own thing during the day: Heather had a commercial recording session to do, so she headed to a studio for that; Diane had lunch with Michele Jelley, an old friend and niece to Jazz legend Kenny Wheeler; Julie laid low and relaxed after a particularly busy week for her. (Julie had been in New York since the previous Thursday.)
Eventually we made our way to the Metropolitan Room to see Annie Ross. 84-year old Ross has been hosting Tuesday evenings at the Metropolitan Room for quite some time, now. Tonight, the show bizz veteran (77 years in the business!) was performing with legendary trumpeter Warren Vache. It was almost surreal hearing her sing! We were joined by Holli Ross, a wonderful vocalist we’d met at APAP. Holli has worked with Annie, so she introduced us after the show. In the meantime, it seems Marilyn Maye DID, in fact, call the Metropolitan Room to let them know that Annie should hear us sing. Warren Vache told us to go for it, so we did. I have to say: it was pretty darned cool singing “Cloudburst” to Annie Ross!! She listened with a big smile on her face, occasionally conducting a rhythmic “shot” or two along with us. There’s one to cross off the bucket list!
Having completed a VERY fun-filled, action-packed weekend, we returned to Toronto the next day. We were moderately exhausted, but pleased with how the weekend turned out.
Of course, there was little time to rest … we were returning to the Big Apple in just 3 days for our follow-up show at the Metropolitan Room. No rest for the wicked … or for the independent Jazz / Cabaret artists determined to create careers for themselves!
Thanks, New York! We’ll be seeing you soon!
Thanks for reading. More adventures to come! Big hugs from Broadsway.