I remember the early Seventies well. Jazz impresario Norman Granz had just started Pablo Records, with an amazing roster of classic jazz musicians, including Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy DeFranco, Roy Eldridge, Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson, among many others. Granz did not rest on his laurels. In addition to reissuing some classic recordings by the likes of Art Tatum--how I wanted the Tatum solo piano box set--Granz also issued a series of seemingly strange duets. One that comes readily to mind is a session that featured Oscar Peterson and Roy Eldridge. I had to wrap my head around what a piano-trumpet duet might sound like. Another Granz session of duets came back to me this evening--Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass performing together on Take Love Easy.
Tonight it was vocalist Tammy McCann and guitarist Mike Allemana. As was true back in the Seventies, you might not think that the two musicians could keep it going for two one-hour sets, but you would be very wrong. Like Ella and Pass, and Eldridge and Peterson, tonight's performers captivated their audience.
Trained as a classical musician, McCann jumped to jazz, and apparently has never looked back, although we did receive brief demonstration of her operatic pipes tonight between songs. She focused on the classics including several Cole Porter numbers, which is not surprising given her recent participation in a tribute to Porter at Carnegie Hall. She paid homage to Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Teddy Pendergast, and Frank Sinatra. At one point, she noted how amazing it was that so many luminaries co-existed in the same era. Those days are long gone, but there is no doubt that McCann would have been included in the pantheon had she lived and performed during that era.
Allemana is a particularly interesting character. He is a doctoral student in ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago, who is writing his dissertation on the Freeman family (Von, Chico, and George). Three years to go until completion. He certainly has the chops, as he demonstrated on his beautiful hollow body guitar.
The MCA continued to serve up top flight food, including a tasty watermelon and feta cheese salad, perfect for the high humidity and blue skies. As the summer progresses, the attendance is growing. The grass terrace looked fuller than it has been and most of the seats in the performance area were occupied.
Copyright 2016, Jack B. Siegel. All Rights Reserved