The creme de la creme of Gotham cabaret gathered to remember and pay tribute to one of their own, Teddi King, a much treasured jazz vocalist who died of lupus 25 years ago. Teddi’s legacy is revealed in a handful of extraordinary recordings, and was celebrated June 24 at the JVC Jazz Festival by her good pals in the music community. The music, for the most part wistfully reflective, told the real story.
Marlene Ver Planck happens to possess one of the most supremely lyrical voices in popular song. Her purity is rare, and her approach is always invested with the utmost care. She sang “Fools Fall in Love,” a plaintive Irving Berlin lament from “Louisiana Purchase,” and made a soothing musical statement.
Legendary jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, who offered a richly tailored Vincent Youmans solo, introduced Ronny Whyte. Whyte, a Manhattan fixture for four decades, not only defines the elegance and distinctive legacy of smart piano bars, but reveals the heart of a song with cunning insight. Currently starring in the long-running Off Broadway hit “Our Sinatra,” he brought a jaunty troubadour’s sense of free-spirited panache to “By Myself,” the Howard Dietz-Arthur Schwartz torch song.
Daryl Sherman’s sensitive reading of the Gershwins’ “Isn’t It a Pity” was complemented by her light, sweet voice and subtly swinging piano accompaniment. Broadway diva Lillias White, abundant with unabashed emotion, used her voice to the fullest for Duke Ellington’s “I Didn’t Know About You,” and her perf was beautifully braced by a caressing Pizzarelli solo.
Barbara Lea invested “You Don’t Know What Love Is” with enveloping warmth, and a distinctive depth of feeling few singers can match. Barbara Carroll, an acutely tasteful pianist, culled the delicate harmonies of Kurt Weill’s “This Is New,” adding a bright, swinging keyboard addenda to her performance. She’s a Manhattan treasure, and the void uptown at Bemelmans Bar, where she held court for over a decade, is a decided downer.
The ever-durable royal couple of jazz, Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, offered Jerome Kern’s “Look for the Silver Lining.” Cain’s sinuous, silvery voice and admirable lyrical approach invested the 80-plus-year-old tune with a bright, sunny relevance for our times, and a positive ray of hope. “Absent Friends,” with music by Kral and lyrics by Fran Landesman, served as a poetically lissome first-half closer.
Marian McPartland played “Prelude to a Kiss,” a sweet echo of Ellingtonia, which she had recorded with King. The lady is a graceful pianist who brings luster, warmth and acute emotional involvement to a tune.
Another graceful Weill statement from “Lady in the Dark” was Michael Abene’s poetic piano solo of “My Ship.” Abene, who played for King, served as accompanist for most of the singers. He instinctively responds beautifully to the moods and tempos of each singer. Joe Cocuzzo is a persuasive and solidly grounded drummer who understands every nuance of a singer. He was comfortably assisted by bassist Dave Finck, an integral supportive voice.
Host Charles Osgood, whose daughter has been diagnosed with the disease, announced that all proceeds from the concert would go to lupus research.