Perez: My Way

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My Way

Metropolitan Room, NYC, September 20, 2016

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

perez-cabaret-scenes-magazine_212In honor of her birthday, jazz Den Mother Perez (Diana Perez Stegeman) moved her musicale, usually home-based, to the festive ambience of the Metropolitan Room. It was all-out swing as a talented group of girl singers gathered to celebrate Perez and the music of the Rat Pack. Wisely, she concentrates on hosting; she has a deeply resonant voice, exhibited on “Come Fly with Me,” “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road),” and “You Make Me Feel So Young,” but also a tendency to fall off pitch.

On the other hand, Perez sure knows talent. Gabrielle Stravelli, with her nuanced jazz belt, performed a Latinized “All or Nothing at All” with plenty of soul and excellent phrasing. English jazz diva Anita Wardell, who also possesses an impressive musicality and excellent scat-ability, sang “My Shining Hour” and a sultry “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me” with feeling. Two-thirds of the music group Duchess—Amy Cervini and Melissa Stylianou—performed with unnecessary banter but capable singing. Cervini is a good technician, demonstrated with “Please Be Kind.” Stylianou, also technically accomplished, offered the bouncy arrangement used by Ella Fitzgerald for “Goody Goody.” Their close harmony duet of “That’s Amore” was simply good fun. Jane Irving, with an airy but powerful instrument and excellent phrasing ,impressed with  “On the Sunny Side of the Street”. Irish-born, U.K.-based Christine Tobin sang “Only the Lonely” with warm tone and good range, but seemed off her game with problems in breath control. Finally, the grand dame of jazz, the remarkable Sheila Jordan performed a “this is how it’s done” rendition of “But Beautiful,” with “moral support” from Jay Clayton (Jordan was fresh off a plane and jet-lagged from a tour of Germany). An all-girl jam of “Happy Birthday” ended this informal evening, a very mixed bag of styles and abilities.

The anchor of My Way proved to be the sensational quartet of musicians led by Musical Director and pianist John di Martino. With Martin Wind on double bass, Matt Wilson on drums and Jed Levy playing tenor sax, the group was positively cooking, with plenty of opportunity to shine, especially Levy with his many solo  turns.

Marilyn Lester

Marilyn Lester left journalism and commercial writing behind nearly two decades ago to write plays. That branch in the road led to screenwriting, script-doctoring, dramaturgy and producing for the stage. Marilyn has also co-authored, as well as edited, books. It seemed the only world of words she hadn’t conquered was criticism, an opportunity that presented itself via Theater Pizzazz. Marilyn has since sought to widen her scope in this form of writing she especially relishes. Marilyn is a member of the Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Women in the Arts and Media and The League of Professional Theater Women.