This short, concise review of Andy Bey's recent Au Bar gigs doesn't need any other words:
Just missed out on the Friday performance. Hopefully, I'll be able to catch him when he performs in Brooklyn.
Andy Bey: Crooning Softly to Conceal the Pain By Stephen Holden
The quality that most distinguishes Andy Bey, a jazz singer and pianist in his mid-60's who only now is gaining recognition as one of the greats of his generation, is his gentleness. Mr. Bey, whose three-night engagement at Le Jazz au Bar ended on Sunday, is best known as a baritone crooner whose cool, resonant voice and lingering phrasing, reminiscent of the very young Nina Simone in a moment of calm, suggest a clear mountain stream pouring over a song.
But there's more to Mr. Bey than a crooner whose quieter voice lends much of what he sings the quality of a dreamy tone poem. This singer, who led a jazz trio augmented by trumpet, trombone and alto saxophone, possesses three distinctive voices that shade into one another with a seamless, pitch-perfect ease. In his languid way he juxtaposes those voices and the moods they evoke to create intense dramatic conflicts that are beautiful but also alarming in that they express a tragic awareness of life. And they make you realize the extent to which a soothing crooner conceals many painful personal wounds.
The most dramatic moment at Friday's early show was Mr. Bey's treatment of E. Y. Harburg and Jay Gorney's Depression-era anthem, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" The group took the song very slowly and calmly, until he could not hold himself in any longer and barked a desperate, humiliated plea for spare change.
The ruminative tempo of the performance helped enlarge the song from a period piece into a broader historical contemplation of racial and economic injustice that culminated in a half-stifled cry: enough is enough.
Posted by ronn at April 2, 2004 09:06 PM