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REVIEW: Nellie McKay @ Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley (Seattle, WA – 10/20/09)

21st Oct 09 (Wed) 5 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

So, I had tickets to see Ben Folds with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra at Benaroya Hall last night.  I hemmed and hawed and finally decided to sell my ticket on craigslist to go see Nellie McKay instead.  I dig both of them as artists, and the main reason for the hemming and hawing was the whole symphony aspect (I mean, I’ve seen Ben Folds Five or solo a half dozen times already… so the symphony take on it was my main draw).  Ah, but… Nellie totally has my heart when in a piano/vocalist celebrity deathmatch with Mr. Folds.  She’s quirky, cute, writes and sings both silly and political songs, has a passionate love for animals (she’s a vegetarian with a stance on animal cruelty that makes me proud), and… you rarely know what to expect from her musically on any given night.  I’ve seen her twice prior, and both times were fantastical suprises.

Sorry, Ben.  Next time?

As a consolation for the Ben Folds fans, there’s a free mp3 stream (or download if you do some research, i.e.- “view source”) from the Huffington Post of the Ben Folds collaboration with author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, etc).  It’s a jab song at the ex-fiance of ex-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin‘s daughter Bristol… from the HuffPo, I present you “Levi Johnston’s Blues.”

Speaking of the HuffPo… here’s a recent article / interview with Nellie McKay by Michael Giltz.

Oh, so Nellie’s latest album, Normal As Blueberry Pie, is all about Doris Day (a total of 14 Doris Day tracks in the recording session, and one Nellie original).  Two of the 15 session tracks are more difficult to get ahold of, unless you want to buy both the “exclusive” Barnes & Noble bonus track version and the iTunes bonus track version.  Have I mentioned that Universal Music Group’s tactics suck!? Anyway, the album is great (special track tactics notwithstanding).  The album lacks some of the bite and wit of Nellie’s prior 3 (and a half) solo albums.  But, I love it all the same.  It’s got Nellie trademark nostalgia / campiness, as evidenced by the photos surrounding the release (see to the right).

OK… on to the review of the show…

I really dig Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley.  It’s small and intimate (but large enough for the room to breathe).  Also I like the idea of making an experience out of the show – a fantastic meal, great atmosphere, and an attentive audience makes for a wonderful evening.  Oh, and free parking in downtown Seattle is like the cherry on top.  This was only my second time here (Hiromi in June was my first), but it is quickly becoming one of my favorite venues in the PacNW, if not ever.  I just wish it wasn’t so far away from me in Eugene all the time.

Nellie went on around 7:40pm with her backing band, The Aristocrats.  This was my first time seeing Nellie with a band.  They were excellent.  They were all younger than I was expecting.  I mean, this wasn’t her studio backing band… but as hired guns solely for touring, they really worked well with Nellie in a fun & playful way.  The band was Nellie McKay (piano and ukulele), Howard Fishman (guitar), Charles Schiermeyer (sax), Ben Bynum (drums), Scott Litroff (violin and flute), and Daniel Policar (keys).


Setlist: just shy of 90 minutes

  • If I Ever Had a Dream
  • Close Your Eyes (Doris Day cover)
  • Sentimental Journey (Doris Day cover)
  • Send Me No Flowers (Doris Day & Burt Bacharach cover, Nellie on Uke)
  • Do Do Do (Doris Day cover) *a fave of the night*
  • Mean To Me (Doris Day cover)
  • Dig It (Doris Day cover, Nellie dance-off) *a fave of the night*
  • The Very Thought of You (Doris Day cover)
  • A Wonderful Guy (Doris Day cover)
  • I Remember You (Doris Day cover)
  • “I Killed Larry David and I Liked It” / Grunge Song *a fave of the night*
  • Crazy Rhythm (Doris Day cover) *a fave of the night*
  • Black Hills of Dakota (Doris Day cover)
  • A-Tisket, A-Tasket (Ella Fitzgerald cover)
  • The Dog Song *a fave of the night*
  • Encore: Zombie (with Gary Danielson on sax)
  • I Wanna Get Married (Doo Wop Version, with Gary Danielson on sax) *a fave of the night*

So, yeah, holy crap… Nellie just keeps on getting better each time I see her.  I thought I’d be slightly bummed by a mostly Doris Day set (as I really like Nellie’s original songs a lot), but the Doris Day material was really fantastic in a live band setting.  The addition of a jazz combo behind her really made the songs gel, and her interaction with the others was really fun.  She’s kinda of a nutty person (or maybe as corny as Kansas in August)… but I wouldn’t want her to be any other way.  I didn’t get a chance to meet her after the show, but I had a fun night regardless.  Nellie and the Aristocrats are playing a second night (Wednesday, October 21st) at the Jazz Alley.  If you go, drop me a line with your thoughts on Night 2.

Some of the best lines of the night by Nellie…

I still can’t go back to Olympia, because I have overdue library books.”

There’s hashish in that music… that was a score!” (really funny in context)

The Jazz Alley’s description of Nellie as a “martini cool chanteuse” was kinda of spot on. :)  If you don’t have her newest one, get it… it’s fun (and out on vinyl, too):

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Erik FriedlanderTopaz

NELLIE McKAY PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2009 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

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REVIEW: Hiromi’s Sonicbloom @ Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley (Seattle, WA – 6/16/09)

17th Jun 09 (Wed) Leave a comment

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

Well, I’d never been to Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley.  It’s an amazing little room (maybe 200 seats) with dinner served if you show up early.  Plus, in downtown Seattle, it offers free parking.  Yeah, you read that correctly – free parking. :)  Anyway, I showed up shortly after 6pm after fighting with traffic heading through Tacoma and into Seattle.  I got seated right up front, which was also the benefit of showing up early for the dinner & show deal.  Fantastic food, and wonderful staff!  The venue earns an A+!!  I hope they bring in some more choice acts… it was worth the trip.

Hiromi Uehara and Sonicbloom took the stage around 7:40.  The band was Hiromi on piano (a Steinway & Sons, if I recall correctly) & keyboards (3 different keyboards/syths), Tony Grey on 6-string electric bass, Dave Fiuczynski on double-neck guitar (12 string on top, 7 string on bottom), and Mauricio Zottarelli on drums.  Both Tony & Dave played on Hiromi’s two Sonicbloom records.  Actually, Tony played with Hiromi on her last four records (not just the recent Sonicbloom moniker).

As a band, they were pretty tight.  I liked Tony a lot on bass.  He had a nice groove, and his “mouthing” of the solos was fun, too.  Maurice was also great, but he was shielded from me for most of the night from an older “bigger hair” couple; so I didn’t catch many glimpses of him.  Dave was good, too… but sometime he got too “noodley” versus what the band was doing.  His solos weren’t great in my opinion, but when he was playing lead, his playing worked well.  Maybe guitar in a jazz quartet wasn’t my thing this time around.

As far as setlist, no luck.  Hiromi only announced one song from the stage: “Time Travel” from Time Control (the 2007 Sonicbloom record).  I’m pretty sure that they didn’t play “XYZ” (or the variation “XYG”).  That was a bummer, but not too much of a bummer – as the show was amazing all around.

They played a few standards, one that the name is on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t for the life of me remember it.  I can hear it still in my head (doo doo doo, doop doop doodle doop).  Damn, there are too many songs in my head and barely any names.  Hiromi also played a solo classical piece that was very familiar, but again, I’m drawing a blank.  Regardless of song names, Hiromi’s handwork is amazing.  I swear, I don’t know how she can pull off playing two different melodies at the same time with different hands.  Anyway, the whole group was an amazing bunch of musicians.  Most of the show was pretty jammy, but had elements of straight ahead jazz, and again some classical.

They’re playing again at the Jazz Alley as I type this… if anyone went tonight (June 17th), let me know how it went.

For the uninitiated to Hiromi, check out the video electronic press kit for Beyond Standard featuring “XYG“:

Or check out the video for “Time Difference“…

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Anakronic Electro-OrchestraThe Yiddish Part -EP-

HIROMI’s SONICBLOOM PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2009 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

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