American Soul – Latin Heart
Metropolitan Room, NYC, February 5, 2017
Reviewed by Joel Benjamin for Cabaret Scenes
Could there be a more authentic and passionate singer than Doreen Montalvo?
Her American Soul – Latin Heart CD release bash at the Metropolitan Room was a rousing success, spreading love and good humor as she poured out a program of Latino-inflected numbers backed by a superb band led by her Musical Director Jaime Lozano (who co-produced the CD).
Her opening number, “Fever” (Eddie Cooley/Otis Blackwell), was different than the cool, worldly Peggy Lee version. Montalvo’s fever was almost distressingly real, stimulating already eager audience members who were equally receptive to her slow, passionate “Angel of the Morning” (Chip Taylor) translated into “Ángel de mi Alma” by the singer.
The theme of her show was illustrated by several songs given Latino twists or new Spanish lyrics, such as “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (Jim Steinman) translated by Yurida, and “Piece of My Heart” (Jerry Ragovoy/Bert Berns), the Janis Joplin classic given a sassy treatment by Montalvo and Lozano.
“Bésame Mucho” (Consuelo Velázquez), which she heard on an Eydie Gormé album, was the first song she sang in Spanish. Montalvo found all the sensuality in the lyrics, almost moaning them.
Her two encores showed her both exultant and meditative about love. “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” (Pino Donaggio/Vicki Wickham/Simon Napier-Bell/Vito Pallavicini) took Dusty Springfield’s masochistic plea and turned it into physical need. She sang “What the Morning Brings” (Lozano/Tommy Newman) with a sly pleasure emanating from her eyes, finishing a powerful concert with a sigh, not a shout.
Her band, assembled for this occasion, worked hand in glove with each other and Montalvo. She wittily called them Doreen and the Sound Machine [a reference to Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine; Doreen has been an ensemble cast member of the Estefan bio-musical on Broadway, On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan and is now taking over the role of Gloria’s mother]! The band: Geraldine Anello (piano); Daniel Fernández (sax/flute); Teddy Mulet (trumpet); Irio O’Farrill (bass); Manny Moreira (guitar); and the hard-working percussionist Edwin Bonilla, brought in at the last minute. Her two in-synch backup singers were Barrie Kealoha Linberg and Florence Cuenca, each dressed in a red plaid shirt like the one Montalvo wore on her album cover.