Aisha de Haas, Capathia Jenkins, Billy Stritch
Stritch, Trouble and More Trouble
Birdland, NYC, November 14, 2016
Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes
Billy Stritch didn’t invoke the given names of his evening’s collaborators but, rather, jokingly introduced them as “Trouble” and “More Trouble.” While there’s little doubt that Aisha de Haas and Capathia Jenkins have a naughty streak, what’s more apparent is that Stritch seems to bring out the best in those he’s working with. And, in case of this trio, it was a whole lotta trouble by way of sass, wicked interpretations and, of course, some mean vocals.
Jenkins and de Haas and revealed that they’re the best of friends and it shows. Whether duetting on ’70s Motown, ’90s country or contemporary showtunes, they have an inherent connection. With her forward placement, de Haas colorfully imbues the phrasing like using crayons: drawing outside the lines with blue, red and purple. But when paired with the steady and understated Jenkins (and Stritch’s spot-on arrangements) the evening becomes more than just jazz night at Birdland.
Jenkins’ vocals on “The Way We Were” (Marvin Hamlisch/Alan & Marilyn Bergman) were transcendent: silk-like tones, careful control and laser-sharp intonation. A vocal pro, here she navigates the tightrope between sweetness and sadness, ending with a complex exhale. Moreover, de Haas has a sage-like appeal, almost presiding over pieces like “You’ll See” (Carroll Coates) and “The Trolley Song” (Hugh Martin). Of course, Stritch delivers, particularly with “Haven’t We Met?” (Kenny Rankin/Ruth Batchelor). Time hasn’t aged his bright tone or slowed that fabulous swing phrasing. And when the three joined together on the serene “Where Is the Love?” (Ralph MacDonald/William Salter), the rapport was so engaging that they seemingly invited the audience into their musical feast.
This evening shone like the sparkles adorning the ladies’ outfits and if this any indication of what “trouble” is, maybe we should all strive for a little less good.