1 February 2004
NY Jazz Report's Thad Kawecki and Will Wolf visited Mama Roses's on Thursday evening 22.January to catch vocalist Bobbe Norris and her pianist/arranger husband Larry Dunlap as they performed the final set of their one night engagement. Their newest release on Four Directions Records (reissued worldwide by the Japanese label Celeste) is entitled "Out of Nowhere."
Bobbe Norris Vocals
Larry Dunlap Piano, Vocals
David Dunaway Bass
Day In, Day Out
The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else
Can't Take You Nowhere
That Old Black Magic
After You, Who?
My Baby Likes To Bebop
Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
Got To Wear You Off My Weary Mind
How Deep Is The Ocean
Never Let Me Go
Kawecki: It's a shame this couple doesn't get to Manhattan more often. Maybe this appearance at Mama Rose’s is the start of greater east coast exposure---they certainly deserve it.
Wolf: Well, up until last week it had been almost 35 years since Bobbe Norris had performed in NY. Why did she keep us waiting?
They do work a lot on the west coast, but I'd known them only through their recordings.
Kawecki: There are quite a few aren't there?
Wolf: Yes. But they've recorded more as individual artists with other musicians---all pretty good stuff. And as much as I've enjoyed listening to their CDs, and as good as they've been together, this live performance was even better. And very intimate; I felt like I was a special guest at a private party with a host kind enough to provide top notch talent. Bobbe Norris has one heck of a voice and knows how to use it to her best advantage. It's a deep, rich, resonant instrument with a tremendous range that produces beautiful round tones.
Kawecki: Yeah, and that smokey quality that fits jazz to a tee. And she puts her message across in the no nonsense, almost matter of fact style of a seasoned pro.
Wolf: A real jazz singer.
Kawecki: And Dunlap is a real jazz pianist. Besides being a solid accompanist to Ms. Norris, he can really turn up the heat when soloing. He has a fine harmonic sense and a rhythmic verve that make his arrangements really fun listening. And his fluency in a variety of styles including bop, straight ahead jazz, ballad and Brazilian is impressive.
Wolf: And together they really jive. After many years of marital and musical communion they've managed to nurture a special chemistry that lights up the stage. And they cooked up a real swinging treat with the jumping, "MY BABY LIKES TO BEBOP," where Dunlap joined the lively romp with his lusty vocal interplay. It was infectious, and the room was bouncing.
Kawecki: He also added that wonderful scratchy tenor to "CAN'T TAKE YOU NOWHERE," another high spirited tune with an amusing Dave Frishberg lyric.
Wolf: Their voices are so complimentary, so nicely matched that I would have loved to have heard a couple more of these exciting vocal duets. And, maybe, even a ballad.
Kawecki: That would have been a bonus to a well rounded set that included a bass and vocal duet, a Jobim classic, a couple of vintage standards, the previously mentioned uptempo tunes, and several well chosen ballads where Ms. Norris excelled. Of note were "AFTER YOU, WHO?" (with its architectual allusion to Bernstein's "SOME OTHER TIME," or perhaps Bill Evans' "PEACE PIECE") and their encore piece "NEVER LET ME GO"---a real heart-melter delivered with skill, not sentimentality.
Wolf: Yes, a fine assortment of tunes, a dozen stellar examples of just how well Norris & Dunlap can interpret any material, no matter what style, and in the process generate so much fun and excitement. A memorable evening.
BOBBE NORRIS & LARRY DUNLAP Website
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