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Sondheim Unplugged at 54Below. PHoto: 54Below.com
Cabaret
Victoria L. Dammer

54 Below Presents Sondheim Unplugged

Rejoicing in the life and musical talent of Stephen Sondheim one year after his passing, 54 Below presented Sondheim Unplugged, a tribute beyond compare that has played repeatedly since 2010.

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Mannheim Steamroller. Photo credit: Victor L Dammer
Music
Victoria L. Dammer

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis

Christmas is a magical time of year, and audiences at the Mayo Performance Art Center (MPAC) in Morristown, NJ, gathered to hear the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis for two magnificent performances on December 3rd.

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Leon Botstein with The Orchestra Now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo credit: Edward Kliszus
Music
Edward A Kliszus

The Orchestra Now presents Sight and Sound

Today was a splendid example of the expressive power of visual and auditory art articulated with a fine orchestra, magnificent art exhibit, and stimulating repartee. Be sure to visit the Tudor exhibit that runs through January 8, 2023, and see the links below to exciting and equally stimulating and entertaining adventures through the arts by the nonpareil Maestro Leon Botstein and The Orchestra Now.

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Kathryn Farmer Album Cover
Cabaret
Edward A Kliszus

Kathryn Farmer at Swing 46

If the 17-piece Kevin Blanq big band and Kathryn Farmer were not enough to get you in the mood for smooth swinging and dancing, the urbane, bespoke, and suave dancer extraordinaire Manuel Rojas appeared to deliver a dance lesson at 8:30 as a second band, Swing a Delic arrived on stage. With Rojas, it was time to revel in the legacies of Al Minns and Frankie Manning with Lindy Hop, swing outs, tuck-in-turn, jazz, tap, sugar foot walk, breakaway, and swing dance….dum-dee-dum, dum-dee-dum, dum-dee-dum, dum-dee-dum. Revelers thronged to the dance floor as the buoyant and joyous Rojas drew them in.

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Wendy Moten at the Nashville Hall of Fame Museum. Photo from wendymoten.com
Cabaret
Edward A Kliszus

Wendy Moten at Birdland

Wendy Moten ascended to the Birdland stage with a smile and charm that lit up the room. From her first words and the comfortable swing tempo of her first song, All of Me, Moten emerged as a poised, expressive, and consummate artist. She conveyed her passionate insights with a beautiful, clear voice and through her ability to command any genre she desired.

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Text superimposed on The Siege by James Little. Oil and Wax on Canvas. 2003. Private Collection, NY
Choral Music
Edward A Kliszus

Duke Ellington Sacred Concerts

For the first time in 35 years, Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts returned to the stage. Envisioned initially by Ellington as a “Festival of Grace,” provenance for Sacred Concerts is informed by a broad spectrum of jazz, classical and choral music, spirituals, dance, gospel, and blues. Ellington’s compositional product in this venue consisted of a triptych of 34 songs originally recorded in 1965, 1968, and 1973 respectively. It can be argued that an august Ellington facing his mortality considered his Sacred Concerts among his most significant works.

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Blake Allen. Photo credit: Bryan Clavel
Chamber Music
Edward A Kliszus

INSOMNIA 

Blake Allen’s Insomnia is a cerebral, enigmatic, and mystifying artistic creation chronicling a night of an insomniac narrator. Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story “Sleep and Waking” (1934), Allen mobilizes the power of music to dramatize and intensify the import of the conflicting tensions of the restive, lone sufferer.

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Ben Wendel. Photo credit: Shervin Lainez
Jazz
Edward A Kliszus

Ben Wendel Quartet at the Village Vanguard

Wendel’s songs are strikingly original, expressive, and extraordinarily inventive. His ideas and improvisations are freely chromatic, virtuosic, and organic, and he employed subtle be-bop idioms when it suited him. His facility is so commanding that he regularly reaches into the stratosphere of the tenor saxophone’s extended range. Notably, he can express ideas with the restraint of Lester Young while employing the pyrotechnics of Charlie Parker.

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