Sunday, May 12, 2019

Concert Review: Havilah Bruders and Paul Shinn at Black Dolphin

Even though I’d heard Havilah Bruders perform several times with the roots-rock band Cadillac FlambĂ© and I’d listened to her 2017 jazz album Come Rain or Shine, I didn’t grasp the depth of her talent until I heard her sing at a Sunday morning service at my church two months ago.  The Kansas City vocalist’s interpretation of “Love Rescue Me”- a song co-written by U2 and Bob Dylan that had previously failed to resonate with me- delivered a genuinely religious experience.

Bruders’ duet with pianist Paul Shinn in a Friday matinee performance at Black Dolphin on May 10 validated my newfound enthusiasm.  The husky growl, thunderous voice and outsize personality of Bruders remind me of the country star Wynonna Judd.  (Just in case you’re wondering, that’s a compliment.)  I’m extremely skeptical of the clichĂ©d rock-singer-shifts-to-jazz transformation, but Bruders makes the grade.

Shinn recently returned to Kansas City following a stint in New York City.  (His first, second and third albums were reviewed at Plastic Sax.)  Playing as well as ever, Shinn adapted his approach for each selection, seamlessly deviating between barrelhouse piano, cocktail lounge tinkling and elegant swing.  He played the role of Ralph Sharon to Bruders’ Tony Bennett and the Tedd Firth to her Marilyn Maye in the winning cabaret-style outing that merited more than an audience of ten. 

A stale repertoire is the duo’s sole flaw.  I’ll need fewer warhorses like “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” and more left-field selections like “Love Rescue Me” if there's to be any chance of experiencing another spiritual epiphany the next time I catch the tandem.

Partial first set setlist (I missed the initial selections): Corcovada (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars); Why Don’t You Do Right?; Crazy; Route 66; Dream a Little Dream of Me; Georgia on My Mind; It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing); The Very Thought of You

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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