Anaïs Reno

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Anaïs Reno

Birdland Theater, NYC, May 14, 2019

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Anaïs Reno

Anaïs Reno proved herself in a wonderful jazz set that included material by a number of classic songwriters. Billy Stritch, long-time Birdland fixture, expounded upon the pleasures of working with such a talented, young performer. The Reno-Stritch combination is surely a delight; she provides an incredible range of rich vocalizations. You can see the joy on Stritch’s face as he played some of the best piano I’ve heard from him.

A trio of her best songs came in the middle of the show: “Smile” (Charlie Chaplin/John Turner/Geoffrey Parsons); “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ but the Blues” (Duke Ellington/Don George); and “Desafinado” (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Newton Mendonça). A song covered by Nat King Cole and two that were covered by Ella Fitzgerald made for great entertainment, and Reno’s voice was simply impressesive. It’s uncanny at times how deep her voice can reach while remaining smooth, reminding me of the rich taste of melted chocolate. The lyrics “Cover me with heaven’s blue/and let me dream a dream or two” from “Lullaby of the Leaves” (Bernice Petkere/Joseph Young), showed off her vocal chops.

She also performed strong duets with Stritch and special guest, Nicolas King.

Among the duets, I preferred “’S Wonderful” (George & Ira Gershwin) with Stritch. They made the shortened words “emoshe,” “devoshe,” and “pash” from this classic sound both fresh and classy at the same time.

Also strong was her performance with King on “Mean to Me” (Fred E. Ahlert/Roy Turk), as they turned an old-fashioned solo into a charming duet.

While the blues featured strongly in Reno’s set, she tends towards positive thoughts and said that the idea that “blues songs are for making one feel better” has made her appreciate them that much more. Reno and Stritch were joined on stage by Neal Miner on bass and Mark McLean on drums.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see