“I’m All Smiles,” a song from Mickey Leonard and Herb Martin’s musical, The Yearling, described the audience’s mood as Joyce Breach performed a rich, easy-going one-nighter of song at Jazz at Kitano. In close musical collaboration with Mike Renzi on piano, Neal Miner on bass, and Warren Vaché on cornet – whose instrumentals fit together like an intricate jigsaw puzzle – Breach filled the intimate room with warm, mellow renditions of many classic Songbook favorites. With phrasing that illuminated what the songwriters no doubt intended, she presented a program of standards that included Irving Berlin’s “Isn’t This a Lovely Day (to Be Caught in the Rain)” and “Cheek to Cheek,” Van Heusen and Burke’s “But Beautiful,” the Gershwins’ “But Not for Me,” Kane and Freed’s “How About You?” and Lane and Lerner’s “Too Late Now,” among others. A change of pace was Antonio Carlos Jobim/ Vinicius de Moraes/Gene Lees’s “Someone to Light Up My Life,” featuring a poetic cornet solo.
The presence of two audience members spontaneously prompted several of Breach’s selections. Mickey Leonard was saluted by a medley of his songs, which included, in addition to “I’m All Smiles,” his gentle “Why Did I Choose You?” (lyrics by Martin) and “Not Exactly Paris” (lyrics by Russell George). Another guest, a surprise to Breach, was a lawyer for whom she had worked, causing her to rifle through her songbooks to come up with one of her popular numbers, Dave Frishberg’s “My Attorney Bernie.” Two jazz performers in the audience, Marlene VerPlanck and Sandy Stewart, prompted salutes from the singer and applause from the audience, adding to the spirit of the evening.
Thanks go to Gino Moretti, host of Kitano, for his overseeing a warm-hearted, smoothly run room that puts the music in the forefront.
July 20, 2012