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Posts from the ‘Artists’ Category

Cecile McLorin Salvant: Jazz Reimagined in West Hartford

by Holley Dey cecile rev-016

She began with the Porgy and Bess classic “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and ended with “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story.  In between she covered Shirley Horn and Billie Holiday, lent a sympathetic voice to the “Stepsisters’ Lament” from Cinderella and gave precise phrasing to Abbey Lincoln’s “Laugh, Clown, Laugh”.  She also growled.

Yes, growled…..simply because she could, in tune and in rhythm.  At twenty-four Cecile McLorin Salvant has a confidence that is both certain and unassuming, a talent that is full-voiced yet fully in control.  She has a wide tonal range, but even more impressive are the dynamics of her performance, the light and tender touch applied to the highest notes, the deliciously warm vibrato that defines her powerful lower register.

Whatever she sings, Salvant finds the syncopation and rhythm that drive the melody, revealing the backbone of songs both new and old.  She brings a fresh style and theatrical flair to the performance of jazz standards, and on Saturday evening at West Hartford’s Town Hall those songs came alive in a way that was suddenly relevant and relatable.

Cecile performed to a full room.  Many in the audience had delayed their arrival, then anxiously checked cellphones as the UConn Huskies competed in the NCAA final four.  Happily, the hometown team prevailed during the dinner hour so that when the 2014 Grammy nominee took the stage she found a receptive audience, warmed up and ready with their own husky growl.

Blanche Calloway originally performed “Growlin’ Dan,”  a story that includes Minnie the Moocher and the “ho de ho de ho” that was later offered as a call and response in live performances.  Cab’s sister was an exceptional singer whose dramatic style was popular in the 1920s/1930s.  She was the first woman to lead an all male jazz orchestra.  Salvant herself fronted a three piece all male band on Saturday including talents on piano, bass and drums.  Her growlin’ and her story tellin’ would have made Blanche proud.

Listen below to a live recording of “Body and Soul”; the elegant phrasing and expression are representative of Cecile’s body of work.  That work includes not only classic jazz, but reinterpretation of newer blues/jazz tunes as well as her own original songs.  To learn more about Cecile McLorin Salvant, visit her website here.   To sample 2014 Grammy nominated album WomanChild, click here.


Cecile McLorin Salvant in West Hartford, Saturday, April 5

Photo Focus: Keb’ Mo’ at the Levoy:: Welcome to My Living Room

Photography by Louise Uznanski and Richard Uznanski for Ontapblog.

@2014 Ontapblog All Rights Reserved


It was the front row’s fault. Keb’ Mo’, the bluesman, appearing in Millville, New Jersey’s Levoy Theater, asked the audience for song requests during his Sunday night show. The request for ‘Color Me Father’ came from a woman in the front row. As Keb’ looked at her and then looked at her again, he quipped, “Now you’re gonna make me have to remember the lyrics.” The song is a cover of The Winston’s song and was part of an agent-mandated children’s album Keb’ made several years ago. ‘But,” he said, “I was glad I made that album because it made me think about these things I needed to think about.” And so, like so many other requested songs Keb’ did last night, he sat right down and sang it.

And the requests kept flying up to the stage. ‘Angelina’, ‘She Just Wants to Dance’, ‘Shave Yo Legs’, ‘Dangerous Mood’ and a new song from the April 22nd new release BluesAmericana titled ‘I Like the Old Me Better’, made the night of story telling more like an evening in your living room where Keb’ Mo’, his drummer Casey Wasner and cellist/bassist Tom Shinness just happened to come by with all of their instruments and songs in their heads.

A last request, blamed on the front row, was for Keb’ to bring out that banjo sitting on the guitar rack but never brought out during the night. Keb’ hoped no one would notice it was there. He regretted bringing it out but he played it willingly and beautifully. Keb’ said “I play the banjo all of the time at home. It’s a happy instrument and it makes me happy when I play it.” So, Keb’ and his two piece band filled everyone’s requests making it seem like the band dropped by your living room and played anything you wanted them to. Although the front row gets all the blame, the balcony claimed a request or two. An evening with Keb’ Mo’ made it a friendly rivalry and it did help to make the music last for two-and-a-half hours. It was nice to put your feet up and enjoy.

For more about Keb’s new CD and tour dates, click here:


Keb' Mo' at Millville, NJ's Levoy Theater

Keb’ Mo’ at Millville, NJ’s Levoy Theater

Tom Shinness, Keb' Mo' and Casey Wasner

Tom Shinness, Keb’ Mo’ and Casey Wasner

Tom Shinness, cello/bass

Tom Shinness, cello/bass






Keb' Mo' at Millville, NJ's Levoy Theater

Keb’ Mo’ at Millville, NJ’s Levoy Theater


On Leyla McCalla, Musical Art and the Venn Diagram

by Holley Dey               ©2014 On Tap Blog  all rights reserved

Have been thinking about the relationship between art and mathematics recently; on Saturday night it all came together.  I think that there are likely as many definitions of “art” as there are artists, as many definitions of “artist” as there are critics.  Most will agree that artistic expression is powerful and powered – powered by creativity and originality.  Not all artists are musicians; not all musicians are artists.  Most musicians and many artists are accomplished entertainers, but not all.  It’s when music is given artistic expression by a talented live performer that the audience finds the sweet spot.  I lived happily in that spot on Saturday evening when Leyla McCalla took the stage at New Haven’s Cafe Nine, featuring several selections from her debut solo album Vari-Colored Songs. Read more

Amy Black Shines on “This Is Home” (Album Review)


by Holley Dey     ©2014 On Tap Blog all rights reserved

Amy Black opened for Rodney Crowell at several of his northeast tour dates last fall, then joined the Grammy winner on stage.  There she charmed the audience by performing one of his original songs, backed by Crowell on harmony vocals.  The two kept in touch after the run of shows ended, and Amy gratefully accepted Rodney’s input and advice on some of her own new music.  He was among those to receive an early listen to the freshly recorded tracks and had a reaction that did not strictly follow the King’s English. Paraphrased and slightly less colorful, it was something like, “Girl, you sang your heart out!” Read more

Taylor Hicks: The Year in Photographs 2013:: Gallery and Giveaway!

by Holley Dey and Louise Uznanski                       ©2013 OnTapBlog All rights reserved

Regis Philbin had a question for Taylor Hicks following the American Idol winner’s 2008 Broadway debut.  “This is what you want then……to be an actor?”  Replied Hicks, “I want to be a musician, and I want to be an entertainer.”  In 2013 Taylor made good on that intention, enlarging his artist brand with ventures into scripted television and celebrity cooking, while maintaining a primary focus on live performance music.

He had his fingers in many pies, borrowing from one recipe to enhance another, blending fun, food and football with the occasional falsetto to create an entertainment potpourri that satisfied even the most finicky.  Here are a few facts and photos attached to a musician who grew and diversified his brand in 2013.  Look for the giveaway that follows the photos; this features one of Hicks’ new ventures! Read more

Taylor Hicks at Harrah’s New Orleans:: It’s All Gumbo To Me

By Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog

©2013 OnTapBlog All Rights Reserved


We had two simple goals heading to New Orleans last week. One was to find the best music the Big Easy had to offer. The other was to find and eat the best gumbo the Big Easy had to offer. Putting on our musical chef hats we found that the basic principles of good gumbo can be applied to the basic principles of great music. Read more

Who Dat American Idol Got that Funk? Taylor Hicks at Harrah’s New Orleans

by Louise Uznanski     ©2013 OnTapBlog All rights reserved

image (1)

Football fanatic and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks is in The Big Easy this weekend with just enough time, and more than enough energy, to rock a few tunes before Sunday’s showdown between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. Read more

Photo Focus:: Taylor Hicks, Brian Less and Cody Farris DO AC

By Louise Uznanski for Ontapblog

Taylor and the band walk onto the late night, mid-summer’s stage at the Blue Martini with energy and joy. Describing how he came to enter the American Idol contest and what it was like performing for Caesars in its properties around the country, Taylor seemed happy to be at the Jersey shore for a mini residency that lasted for ten shows over two weekends. Thanks to Bally’s and Caesars for bringing Taylor back to Atlantic city in such great style. Read more

Taylor Hicks in Atlantic City: Review & Preview with Photos & Video

by Louise Uznanski and Holley Dey @2013 OnTapBlog all rights reserved

“Don’t think that somebody doesn’t read their tweets,” he said, “because they do!” @taylorhicks then motioned to the audience and a young woman with a cowboy hat squealed with excitement as she was beckoned to the stage. Kristen Campbell describes country soul as her genre of choice and counts American Idol winner Taylor Hicks among her musical influences. The singer-songwriter’s pre-show tweets were enthusiastic and to the point. “To sing harmony vocals on “Seven Mile Breakdown”, she pleaded, “would be a dream come true.” Her spirited performance and bright, genuine smile added sweet spice to the rockin’ finale, and @kaoskrissy was a hit with the Beach Bar crowd. Read more

Photo Focus:: Taylor Hicks at Bally’s AC: The Blues’man’ Cometh to the Blue Martini

Part 2 of a 2 part preview of the Taylor Hicks Bally’s Atlantic City performances by Louise Uznanski for Ontapblog.

©2013 Ontapblog All Rights Reserved.

The entrance to the Blue Martini sits right on the casino floor on the 3rd level of Bally’s.

Blue Martini Entrance Read more


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