Review: ‘Hadda Brooks’

For over 60 years, Hadda Brooks has been singing the blues, jazz and torch in taverns, cabarets and restaurants. Yet somehow, the 85-year-old chanteuse makes even a run-of-the-mill Wednesday night in a little club in Los Feliz seem like an opening night.

For over 60 years, Hadda Brooks has been singing the blues, jazz and torch in taverns, cabarets and restaurants. Yet somehow, the 85-year-old chanteuse makes even a run-of-the-mill Wednesday night in a little club in Los Feliz seem like an opening night.

Which in some ways, it was. Ms. Brooks is doing a month of Wednesdays at the boite, accompanied by former Brubeck bassist Senator Eugene Wright.

No longer a blues belter and thus off that circuit of clubs, Brooks plays a handful of jazz festivals and cabarets and has been looking for a gig closer to home (which for the singer is in East Hollywood). Sitting at her piano, she belted out a mix of standards and originals and can work a house like no one’s business.

In fine form she was, singing classics like “Funny That Way” and “Ballin’ the Jack” and “A Little Sugar in My Bowl” before hammering out a honky-tonky instrumental and bidding the audience adieu — but not before she walked about the tiny room a few times serenading and insulting the audience good-naturedly, beginning with a hapless photographer that took a little too long for her liking to snap her picture. “Are you gonna flash me now or what?,” asked the singer to uproarious applause, after striking a pose and getting no result. She then played a stunning little solo interlude during the tune and kissed her fingers afterwards, also drawing a huge hand. The consummate pro, indeed.

In a world where Billie and Bessie and Dinah are beyond long gone, Hadda Brooks is still kicking it out.

Hadda Brooks

Michael's; 75 capacity; no admission

Production

Presented by Eddie Morris for Stellar Artists.

Cast

Band: Senator Eugene Wright, Hadda Brooks. Reviewed May 8, 2002.
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