Monday, September 9, 2013

Concert Review: The Lisa Henry Quartet at Jazz by the Lake

An extraordinarily gratifying performance took place in a sun-soaked cottage on a college campus last week.  The Lisa Henry Quartet delighted a capacity audience of about 100 at the Conference Center near the south entrance of Kansas City Kansas Community College.  The structure adjacent to a small body of water resembles a rustic hunting lodge.

The charming setting is transformed into a comfortable jazz venue during the institution's free Jazz By the Lake series. 

Backed by keyboardist Everett Freeman, bassist Tyrone Clarke and drummer Mike Warren, Lisa Henry sang standards with impeccable grace for an hour.  A duet with Clarke on "Mood Indigo" showcased her lustrous voice.  With a vocal tone that evokes Nancy Wilson and an ability to swing like Ella Fitzgerald, Henry is an incredible mainstream jazz vocalist.  Her performance was so riveting that it was impossible not wonder why she's not better known. 

Henry was introduced to the international jazz community when she took second place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition in 1994.  Internet trolls are aware of Henry because of this oddity.

"Professor Bobby Watson says they come for the hug," Henry said at the conclusion of her performance.  "I thank you for coming and I hope you've enjoyed the hug."

Henry's musical embrace is one of my favorite performances of 2013.

(The remainder of this season's Jazz by the Lake schedule is published here.  Henry was last featured at Plastic Sax in April of 2012.)

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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