BLOWN AWAY BY GLORIA REUBEN'S METROPOLITAN GIG
THE GLORIOUS CORNER
Story By: G. H. HARDING
REUBEN GOOD --- I really love nothing more than being invited to a show—not really knowing what to expect—and being totally blown away. It doesn't happen all that often. Happily, that was not the case last night when we saw actress Gloria Reuben’s debut in NYC at The Metropolitan Room.
The twice-nominated Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actress has a new album out (her second one, actually) called Perchance to Dream, which is just sensational. Sultry, moody, atmospheric jazz that’s just a pure delight, this is one of those albums that you can’t help but fall in love with as soon as you hear it. Its level of performance, production, and song selection is spot-on and delightful.
Her delicate, yet soulful voice (with echoes of Al Jarreau and Michael Franks in the air) immediately grabs you and doesn't let go; but it’s a delightful ride for sure.
In her performance, Reuben pretty much followed the sequence of songs on the album, beginning with the lush and enticing “Change Partners” and then shifting seamlessly to the song “Poor Girl” (based on a Maya Angelou poem, with music by Jay Ashby).
The packed audience (which included Debbie [David – you’d know better than me, but doesn’t she prefer “Deborah” as her first name these days?] Gibson and actor Robert Funaro from HBO’s The Sopranos) was totally in sync with Gloria from start to finish.
Another high point of the show was the final song (in which Reuben accompanied herself on piano) called “Here’s To Life.” The song left the audience breathless as they beheld the end of a night’s performance that was very nearly perfect in every way. Reuben’s band, fronted by her producer Marty Ashby on a beautiful hollow-bodied guitar, was exceptional. Kudos!
It really was an extraordinary show; one of the best that we’ve seen so far this year.
DIVAS UNITE --- Legendary dance divas Martha Wash, Evelyn “Champagne” King and Linda Clifford have formed the new diva super-group—First Ladies of Disco—and released their first collaboration, the single “Show Some Love.”
The initial release also features a B-side “bonus mix” – a dance remix by John LePage and Brian Cua.
“What I like about ‘Show Some Love’ is the song and its cross-genre appeal gave all of us a chance to use our talents and range in an uplifting song that I know is going to inspire,” says two-time Grammy nominee Martha Wash, who gained fame in the 1970s as a member of Two Tons of Fun, and who was also the back-up vocalist for the late disco legend Sylvester.
She also, as it turns out, recorded “It’s Raining Men” (1979) as one of The Weather Girls, and is the voice heard on No. 1 dance-track hits by C&C Music Factory and Black Box. (Fun fact: Did you know that “It’s Raining Men” was written by Paul Jabara and none other than David Letterman’s longtime music-director sidekick Paul Shaffer?
Wash is joined by Evelyn “Champagne” King (her classic hit, “Shame, “cracked the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1977) and five-time Grammy nominee Linda Clifford. The three plan to tour as well.
Listen to The First Ladies of Disco single “Show Some Love” on Soundcloud:
BILLIE HOLIDAY CENTENNIAL --- As a special birthday gift to the woman widely considered to be one of the greatest vocalists of the 20th century, The Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame is proud to welcome Billie Holiday as its newest inductee on the centennial anniversary of her birth in the City of Brotherly Love.
Billie Holiday was also known as “Lady Day,” a beloved name given to Holiday early in her career. The name was further immortalized in pop culture by original Four Seasons member/songwriter Bob Gaudio and co-writer Jake Holmes, whose song “Lady Day” was then sang with great affection by Frank Sinatra on his 1971 album Sinatra and Company). Holiday is only the first of this year’s inductees to be announced. The Philadelphia Music Alliance (PMA) will hold a press reception in late May to announce the rest of the Walk of Fame’s Class of 2015. Holiday and the rest of the new honorees will be formally inducted together in October during ceremonies along the Avenue of the Arts.
"The Philadelphia Music Alliance wanted to present what we think is a 'perfect' birthday gift to an extraordinary vocalist, Billie Holiday, and announce her induction on her 100th birthday," said Alan Rubens, Chairman of the PMA. "It will be an absolute pleasure to be able to walk down Broad Street and see her name where it rightfully belongs, on the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame, with other homegrown jazz giants like John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, and Grover Washington Jr.”
Holiday was born Elinore Harris on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia General Hospital in West Philadelphia. As the official marker on Lombard Street (west of Broad Street from the Pennsylvania Historical Museum and Commission) says, “[S]he was called the greatest jazz vocalist of her time. Starting in 1933, she recorded with Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, and others. Notable songs include ‘Lover Man,’ ‘Strange Fruit.’”
As Philadelphia’s own Jill Scott tells Vanity Fair: “Billie Holiday is guts. She is guts, and pain, and challenges. She is the sweetest pain…. Her voice gave me permission to have pain on a record. To convey the heart’s heart. To be able to sing songs about what is happening in society, as well. She did all this with a lot of freedom. There wasn't a bunch of production. It was just Billie Holiday, being herself. All the miseries and all the wounds, and then reporting it, basically, to society. That is an artist. There is a difference between being an entertainer and an artist, and Billie Holiday is a true artist.”
CLOSING NOTES --- Great to see photographers Bobby Bank, Derek Storm; PR-pasha David Salidor; and, writer Brad Balfour at the Gloria Reuben event last night . . .
Well, concert albums in Japan may be a rock-band cliche (see Deep Purple’s Made in Japan or Cheap Trick’s 1978 live album recorded at Budokan) . . . but within two minutes of listening to the new Van Halen live album Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, it’s clear that Van Halen (with original frontman David Lee Roth standing front and center, and speaking fluent Japanese at certain quiet points in the show) is back with a vengeance. Recorded in June 2013 before 44,000 adoring fans, this is as much proof as anyone might need to know that the VH machine is ready to do some fairly incredible shows this summer. Roth may not be able to hit some of the high notes, or yelp out that banshee cry, but he sure knows how to give one hell of a show. Glad to have the band back . . .
We work right near where Hillary Clinton is about to open her new campaign HQ in Brooklyn and it’ll be interesting to see what happens. I predict a mess, for sure . . .