Two short notes on recent concerts:
Jazz singer Rachael Price is just 23, but judging by her performance Saturday night in Boca Raton, she already has the instincts and perseverance of a road veteran.
Price, a Boston-based singer who just earned a jazz studies degree at the New England Conservatory of Music, appeared at the tiny Willow Theatre in Boca’s Sugar Sand Park with a substitute pianist in her backing trio while clearly battling a cold that occasionally robbed her of volume and smooth register shifts.
Yet she did a fine job, giving good readings of a handful of standards from the Great American Songbook. The majority of her two sets — which included You Go to My Head, Skylark, I Love You Madly, Let’s Build a Stairway to the Stars — are featured on her newest album, The Good Hours. Bassist Erik Privert and drummer David Brophy were a tight unit, and Privert had to do double duty as bandleader, cuing in guest pianist Sergio Salvatore, who was reading from charts most of the night in the absence of Price’s usual pianist and vibraphonist, Warren Wolf.
Price has a powerful, somewhat deep, often sexy voice that sometimes can overblow, rolling out a bit too much lungpower in things such as the rideout of The Trolley Song, but that’s what the weather’s like at the intersection of today’s popular singing styles and that of the past. She has a chatty, friendly stage presence, sharing a family story before singing Serenade in Blue, and confessing to being hung up on someone before doing a moody take on That Old Feeling.
The high point for me, and apparently for the rest of the half-full house at the Willow, was a duet with Salvatore on My Romance, the Rodgers-Hart beauty from 1935. Salvatore began with a slow, sculptured series of Debussy-style chords and Price floated in with an unmannered, pure interpretation of this lovely Rodgers tune and classic Hart lyric. Words like these can be hard to relate to for younger people, Price told the audience afterward, but that they seemed so right and meaningful as she sang them was “testimony to the power of music.”
Quite so. Sources tell me the veteran arranger and composer Sammy Nestico is working on an album for Price, and here’s hoping My Romance is among the charts. Here’s also hoping she’s able to come back to these parts sometime soon, and in full vocal health — though if she isn’t, you can bet she’ll soldier on anyway.
Viva Vivaldi: On Sunday afternoon, I went over to St. Paul’s for the Camerata del Re’s all-Vivaldi concert (except for one piece by Chedeville), and wrote about it for the South Florida Classical Review (read it here).
As I mention, the tuning problems the group faced were considerable, but I did want to note also that the current lineup of concerts for St. Paul’s is deeper and more ambitious than series in past years, and that’s to be applauded. Keith Paulson-Thorp is a fine musician and an engaging scholar who promises to bring ambitious and interesting programming to the Delray Beach church, and this is a series well worth watching.
In fact, a benefit concert for two St. Paul’s children’s charities has been announced for 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6. The young Italian harpsichordist Chiara Massini will perform works by J.S. Bach (including the Goldberg Variations), Alessandro Scarlatti, Johann Jacob Froberger and Francois Couperin. Here’s a chance to hear music from the earlier centuries of keyboard tradition before the piano conquered all.
Froberger and Couperin, for instance, had huge influence on the development of keyboard playing and compostion in the German and French lands, respectively, and this great music isn’t heard in our concert halls often enough. (Tickets for the Massini concert are $20 and $35 and can be reserved by calling St. Paul’s at 278-6003 or going to the church Website. Thus endeth my plug.)