Ethereal and magical best describe the two-hour experience of The Kat & Dave Show: An Intimate Evening with David Foster and Katharine McPhee at the Mayo Performing Art Center (MPAC) on December 2.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.