Transplanted Tulsan Harold Sanditen
Brings British Cabaret to the Jazz Depot
Harold Sanditen, who grew up in Tulsa, did his first solo cabaret show in 2008, following a long run as a theatrical producer in both New York and London. He debuted his cabaret act in New York, then took it to London; its success marked the beginning of a new career for the former investment banker, who now creates and performs in a new UK production of his own just about every year.
Until now, however, he’s never played before his hometown audience – unless you count his 1973 star turn as Prince Dauntless the Drab in the Memorial High School production of Once Upon A Mattress.
All of that changes on Saturday, November 30, when Sanditen plans to present a selection of songs from his latest CD, Shades of Blue, as well as numbers from his brand-new show, Full Circle, at Tulsa’s Jazz Depot.
“I’ve been wanting to do Tulsa for a long, long time,” he says. “I was never really sure what the right venue was. Then when I was there, in March of this year, we saw Cynthia Simmons at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, and I liked the room. I looked at a few other places where you can set up a performance space, but I didn’t see anything I liked as much.
“I’m thrilled to finally be making my Tulsa debut at the Jazz Depot, and I feel like it’s a terrific homecoming with the wonderful response I’ve had so far.”
Full Circle was set to premiere in London November 23, only a week before his hometown engagement.
“It’s all songs from the ’60s and ’70s that were instrumental to me when I was growing up,” he says of Full Circle. “It’s a very personal show, and singing those songs brings backs floods of memories from Tulsa – which is making me all the more eager to get to Tulsa.”
At the Jazz Depot, he adds, “I’ll do one set of selections from the CD Shades of Blue and another from Full Circle, which takes me back to my days in Tulsa. That way, it’ll be much more personal. There’s a little bit of overlap between those two anyway, with songs like `Landslide’ and `Moondance.'”
While those two numbers were big hits – by, respectively, Fleetwood Mac and Van Morrison – patrons shouldn’t expect straight re-creations from Sanditen. His art goes much deeper than that, as he often changes tempo and lyrical emphasis in order to give listeners a fresh, deeper look at familiar tunes.
“I love it when I hear people say that, because that’s what I try to do,” he says, adding an example.
“In a previous show I did called Thoughts Around Midnight, I sang [the Beatles’] `We Can Work It Out.’ When you think of that song, it has a very pop beat to it. But when you think about the lyric, the first lyric is, `Try to see it my way, do I have to keep on talking ’til I can’t go on?’ It’s a fight, basically.
“So I got the idea to start the song as a fight. In the show, it starts out as a fight, and there’s a journey this person goes through, seeing that, well, he’s a [jerk]. `If you don’t see it my way, it’s the highway. You don’t have any say-so.’ And I’ve had so many people say to me that they never actually listened to the words of that song so much before. I love it when I hear that.”
In addition to classic pop songs, Sanditen laughingly confesses a fondness for performing what he terms “slit-your-wrist” ballads.
“You can really get swept away in their emotions, you know,” he says. “You listen to the audience, and you could hear a pin drop.”
However, he’s learned not to perform too many of those at one time.
“I did a medley of three songs, `Besame Mucho’ followed by [Jacques Brel’s] `Ne Me Quitte Pas,’ followed by `With Every Breath I Take’ from [the musical] City ofAngels, and it was one downer after another,” says Sanditen, laughing again. “I don’t do that so much any more. It’s too taxing for the audience.”
Harold Sanditen is set to begin at 8:00p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, at theOklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the depot, from www.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, VIP reserved table seating, which includes a poster and autographed CD, is $40.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameis a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.