Summertime, and the music was wailin’ in Minami Aoyama Wednesday night as Lenne Hardt and her Jazz Cabaret Band played to a packed audience at the trendy Mandala Club.
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Long time Lenne fans were happy to hear her regular standards like Gershwin’s Summertime, You Give Me Fever and Makin’ Whoopee. But even the most ardent fans weren’t quite prepared for her poignant rendition of Cry Me a River that was so heart-wrenching some wondered if a divorce was in the works. (Confident hubby Mal assured me she was just doing her convincing drama queen thing).
Lenne standards are always well received, but on this night we were treated with some real surprises as well. Lenne put all her power into a Shirley Bassey style Goldfinger, got all teary eyed on India Arie’s Get it Together, and resurrected Gene Pitney’s Town Without Pity.
There was more, much more, in both repertoire and performers. Lenne was joined by some very talented friends.
Blonde balladeer Helen Morrison countered Lenne’s pizazz with some sweet and smooth standards.
Kei Grant, Lenne’s cohort at the Pride MMA events, rivaled Lou Rawls with his deep baritone.
Fellow thespian Walter Roberts offered some seemingly effortless crooning reminiscent of Mel Torme.
Another thespian, Katherine Cash added a touch of class with her swinging violin.
Kanako Nakamura set the band’s pace with her tempered keyboard improvisations, (it’s hard to believe anyone so sweet could be so spunky). The amazing Mitsuru Tanaka’s on trumpet blew typhoon force notes in perfect counterpoint to Kanako’s solid chords, while her hubby hammered the beat with the kind of infallible precision jazz demands. Bassman Toshihisa Nagami held the whole thing together with his funky base and even funkier profile (see the pix).
This has been one helluva summer in Tokyo; too much heat and too little rain for far too long. Thank God this week, as September’s first typhoon brought some respite, the memory of all that sweat was washed away by Lenne & Friends. Now I only hope the Lenne Hardt Jazz Cabaret Band will schedule another gig to reverse the process and heat up the coming winter.
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