“Too Darn Hot” Cole Porter Revue at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame October 5th, 2014

COLE PORTER

“Too Darn Hot” Cole Porter Revue Features All-Female Vocalists

            Although there are a lot of factors that go into making a show a hit, it’s hard to go wrong with a concert full of Cole Porter music. In his four-plus decades as a songwriter and composer, the Indiana native contributed scores of classic tunes to the Great American Songbook, including such evergreens as “Night and Day,” “I Get A Kick out of You,” “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” and “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love.”

Porter’s drawing power has always been celebrated by the Oklahoma Jazz Hallof Fame, since a Cole Porter show was included in the Jazz Hall‘s initial slate of concerts. That first show was a success, and Jazz Hall-produced Porter concerts quickly became highly anticipated events. Today, CEO Jason McIntosh carries on the tradition, as does Tulsa’s First Lady of Jazz, vocalist Pam Van Dyke Crosby.

“I was on the first Cole Porter show produced,” she says, “and that was back when the Jazz Hall was at the Greenwood Cultural Center. We’ve had one just about every year since.”

Crosby’s producing the latest one, dubbed Too Darn Hot: A Cole Porter Review. And “just to have something a little bit different,” she’s decided to go with all female vocalists. To that end, she’s enlisted some of Tulsa’s finest jazz singers; scheduled to perform Sunday are Sandy Gardner, Cynthia Simmons, Olivia Duhon, Cindy Cain,Angie Cockrell, Louiza Cornelius, Stephanie Oliver, and Ashlee Elmore, as well as Pam herself. The only name on that list that might not be familiar to Jazz Depot audiences is Elmore, who recently moved to town and became the director of the Tulsa Children’s Chorus.

“She’s a young woman, a good singer,” says Crosby.”She just did a show with Olivia [Duhon] at the Jazz Hall, and I heard her sing [Porter’s] `I’ve Got You under My Skin.’ I’ve heard her sing a couple of times before, and I thought she’d be good for this.”

Once she assembled her cast for the Porter show, Crosby gave each vocalist the option of either choosing from a group of arrangements done by Oklahoma JazzHall of Famer Chuck Gardner or picking other Porter songs they liked. This freedom of choice, she says, led to   “some unusual tunes” set for Sunday, including a couple selected by Cindy Cain. Those are “High Society Calypso,” from the 1956 movie High Society, and “Find Me A Primitive Man,” which debuted in the 1929 Broadway musical Fifty Million Frenchmen but is probably better known by today’s audiences because of its memorable performance by Madeline Kahn in the 1975 film At Long Last Love.

“Cole Porter’s songs have everything,” notes Crosby. “The lyrics are very intelligent and sometimes funny, the melodies are interesting and sometimes challenging – like in `Begin the Beguine.’ And they lend themselves to all kinds of different rhythms. You can take a Cole Porter tune and make it a swing tune, or a nice Latin tune. You can do them as ballads. They’re just timeless. I love his songs.”cole porter Songbook

In addition to each vocalist doing the songs she’s picked, there’ll be at least one duet and one trio performance over the course of the evening. And, while the singers will all be women, the band is all-male, a trio of top-notch players enjoyed often by Jazz Depot patrons: pianist Scott McQuade, bassist Bill Crosby, and drummer Tony Yohe.

“They’ve played the Cole Porter shows, too, but it’s not a reprise, because some of the guy songs we’ve done in the past will be sung by gals,” explains Pam. “`I’ve Got You Under My Skin,’ for instance, is usually done by a guy, but we’re going to have it in our show. I just think it’s all going to be really fun and interesting.”

Too Darn Hot: A Cole Porter Revueis set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, October 5th, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, fromwww.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.

The show is a part of the Jazz Hall‘s 2014 Autumn Concert Series.

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 the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

Pam Crosby Live at Main St. Tavern

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The incomparable Pam Van Dyke Crosby will be performing with guitarist Randy Wimer at Main St. Tavern in Broken Arrow’s Rose District, Wednesday April 2nd from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. Bring your friends, family neighbors and enemies(they get to sit in the back), have a wonderful dinner and enjoy a fun filled  evening of your favorite tunes from jazz, blues, soft rock and more.

For more info click the links below:

Facebook: Main St. Tavern

Facebook: Pam Crosby Music

Rose District Broken Arrowhttp://www.rosedistrict.com/

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Cynthia Simmons Performs at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

 

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Vocalist Cynthia Simmons Celebrates the Season

with Jingle Bell Jazz at the Jazz Depot

As the co-producer and star, with fellow vocalist Pam Van Dyke Crosby, of last month’s Tribute to Cole Porter concert, Cynthia Simmons was looking forward to presenting a few Porter songs to the Jazz Depot crowd.

But then, things happened.

“I twisted my ankle the week before the show,” she explains, “and then theday before, when we were getting ready to rehearse, I got ill on top of that. So I had to say, `I need to stay home, Pam. I’m sorry.'”

Undoubtedly, there were several Simmons fans in the audience who were sorry, too. But if they come out to Cynthia Simmons Presents Jingle Bell Jazz Sunday, they’ll hear her do at least a couple of the tunes she had all ready for the Porter show, including “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and “Miss Otis Regrets.”IMGP4875

“I happen to love Christmas songs, so this show is an opportunity to do some of my favorites,” she says. “But I’ll also throw some regular jazz songs in, including some of the ones I didn’t get to do at the Cole Porter show.”

This is the fourth time in a relatively short stretch that Simmons has headlined her own Depot concert, which gives testimony to her popularity with area jazz fans. An Oklahoma City native, she moved to Tulsa a few years ago and happened to connect on Facebook with noted jazz pianist Scott McQuade, who had himself recently arrived in Tulsa from his native Canada. That led to a meeting at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, and from there to her subsequent performances on the Jazz Depot, both in ensemble casts and headlining her own shows.

For this one, she’ll be backed by two players well known to Depot audiences, bassist Nathan Eicher and drummer Wade Robertson. Her pianist for the evening, though, may not be quite as well known at this end of the Turner Turnpike as he is in his hometown.

adam ledbetter 1“He’s Adam Ledbetter, who’s from Oklahoma City,” notes Simmons. “I met him through [saxophonist] Mike Cameron when we did the Don Byas tribute at theJazz Hall last year. He’s worked with Rebecca Ungerman a little bit, and some of the other people around town. I just did a show in Oklahoma City, and he’s the person I used; he and I have just kind of connected. He’s come in and done some things at Main Street Tavern with me, too. And he’s just an excellent, excellent musician.”

In addition to the straight jazz tunes, Simmons plans to give jazzy twists to holiday classics, including the likes of “Santa Baby” and “The Christmas Song.”

“I know Mel Torme wrote `The Christmas Song,’ but whenever I think of it, I usually hear Nat King Cole,” Simmons says. “It just gives me chills to hear him singing it — and it gives me chills to sing it. It’s one of my favorite songs to sing.

“I’m also going to do `What A Wonderful World,'” she added. “I know it’s not a Christmas song, but you hear it so much at Christmas, and it’s just a great song.”

At least one number on her Sunday playlist may be a bit of a surprise, however, veering Simmons at least temporarily away from the style of music she’s known for.

“I’m probably going to do `O, Holy Night,'” reveals Simmons. “My background is not pure jazz; in my past, I used to do more gospel and classical things. I love Mahalia Jackson – who I learned recently also sang jazz at one point in her career. I just love her voice. She was my mother’s favorite gospel singer, and I grew up listening to her do `O. Holy Night’ on a Christmas album my mom had.mahalia-jackson

“It was really an album, too,” she adds with a laugh. “You know, an LP, where you have to put the needle down. And now, I’m dating myself.”

  Cynthia Simmons Presents Jingle Bell Jazz is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, December 15, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, fromwww.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2013-14 Winter Concert Series.

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.

jazz hall at night

 

Some of Tulsa’s Top Performers Featured in Cole Porter Tribute at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

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Cole Porter Tribute Brings Top Tulsa Performers to Jazz Depot

            A half-century after his death, Cole Porter still sells tickets.

That’s certainly true at Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, anyway, whose regular tributes to the famed American composer consistently draw some of the biggest crowds of the year. The 2013 version is set for Sunday, Nov. 10, and features singers Angie Cockrell, Cindy Cain, Sandy Gardner, Larry Cochran, and Darell Christopher, along with co-producers Pam Van Dyke Crosby and Cynthia Simmons. Crosby says one or two more vocalists may be added to the group, which will perform with a trio composed of Bill Crosby on bass, Tony Yohe on drums, and 2013 Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameinductee Chuck Gardner on piano.

“The singers are all volunteering their time,” notes Ms. Crosby. “It’s a fundraiser for the Jazz Hall of Fame.”

The Jazz Hall couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to raise funds, given the ticket-selling potential of a Porter tribute. Crosby’s producing partner, Simmons, believes the enduring popularity of these Jazz Depot shows has to do with a couple of factors.

“First,” she says, “people know Cole Porter. They know the music. They know the songs. And then, adding to that, they know the people who are singing them. I think that makes for a great show and a wonderful, fun evening.”

“He wrote so many songs, with such a variety of possibilities, and rhythms, and subjects,” adds Crosby. “He just wrote hundreds and hundreds of things, everything from `Another Opin’in’, Another Show’ to `I Love Paris,’ from `Too Darn Hot’ to `I Concentrate on You.’

“And jazz musicians have embraced his material, too, because the melodies a lot of times are complicated, and they have a lot of room in them to improvise. It’s just all great music.”

Like Simmons, Crosby believes that having a number of different singers perform during the course of the evening is another plus for the Porter shows.

“The people at the Jazz Hall love that – to be able to see a lot of different people, and hear a lot of different voices,” she explains. “We’ll do kind of a different opening [this year], with everybody parading in and walking around on stage, and we’ll say their names and introduce them. It’s going to be kind of like an old Broadway show.”

Getting those cast members together, Simmons says, was one of the easiest parts of producing the concert.

“We have a fabulous jazz community here. We all work together, we’re friends, we like each other. So when we go to people and say, `Hey, will you sing a couple of tunes on this show?’ they say, `Sure.’ Sometimes they come to us: ‘I know you’re doing a Cole Porter show. Let me do a song or two.’ We haven’t had any resistance. We’ve got a great community and we all come together for good causes.”

While Simmons has staged her own concerts at the Jazz Depot, as well as participating in other shows with large casts, this is her first time to not only sing in aPorter tribute at the Depot, but also to produce a multi-artist showcase.cole porter cd

“The biggest thing is making sure you don’t have duplicate songs between people,” she says. “Somebody might say, `Well, I want to sing `My “Heart Belongs to Daddy,”‘ and you have to say, `Oh, wait, Angie said she’s going to do that song. Can you pick another one?’   That’s probably the most complicated thing with a show like this.”

Simmons says she’s picked up a lot from Crosby, a veteran at producing and singing in these sorts of extravaganzas.

“Pam is a master,” she notes. “For a lot of this, I’ve simply sat back and watched her so I could learn, because she’s so good at it. I’ve watched her do it in the shows I’ve been in, and I’ve been learning a lot from her.”

And one of the things she’s undoubtedly learned is just how much Pam Van Dyke Crosby enjoys putting on a concert like this one.

“It’s so much fun to be able to do a show with a lot of people,” says Crosby. “These casts always love working together, and everybody really has a good time.”

A Tribute to Cole Porter is set to begin at 5:00p.m. Sunday at the OklahomaJazz 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, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.

The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2013 Autumn Concert Series.

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.

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Cindy Cain and Friends at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

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Cindy Cain Brings Love to the Jazz Depot this Sunday

Featuring Guest Vocalist Brett Yeakey 

            Back in March of this year, taking the stage for her first Jazz Depot show as a headliner, singer Cindy Cain added some new lyrics to Cole Porter’s classic tune “Don’t Fence Me In” to explain how her concert wouldn’t be strictly jazz-oriented.

“This is the first solo show I’ve had at the Jazz Hall,” she said then, “and I wanted to show some diversity.”

This time around, she’s using another classic pop tune, the 1939 Billie Holiday hit “Comes Love,” to illustrate her musical intentions. And for her second Jazz Depot show, she says, the emphasis is on jazz and standards.

“I just decided that I’d done a panoply of genres on the March show, so I wanted this one to be pretty much a straight jazz show. I’m singing some songs that I had on my first CD, back in 1998, and some from when I was singing at weddings with a horn band, like `Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.’ We’ll only have one horn at the show, but I think it’ll work just fine.

“I’m also doing some tunes that are new to me, like `Orange Colored Sky,’ `Everybody Loves My Baby,’ and `Hey There,’ that Scott McQuade is charting for me.”

The busy McQuade is also scheduled to play piano for the show, along with Tommy Poole on saxophone, Bill Crosby on bass, and Wade Robertson on drums.

“I’m going to have Brett Yeakey as a special guest vocalist,” she notes. “I’ve known him for years, and I knew that he’d started singing in church and then went on to Broadway-styled productions like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Peter Pan, The King and I, andCamelot. I also knew he’d worked with the Council Oak Men’s Chorale and Theatre Tulsa.

“So one evening about two or three months ago, he’d been helping me get my songs up on iTunes, and we were sitting around with glasses of wine, ruminating. He said, `You know, I’d love to sing with you sometime.” I thought for a minute and then I said, `Well, I may have the opportunity for you.’

“We had a rehearsal, and he recorded it on his iPhone and then sent me the files to listen to – and when we were trading lines, it was hard to tell us apart. Our voices are in the same timbre. It’s not exactly Louis [Armstrong] and Ella [Fitzgerald].”

For one of his solos Sunday, however, Yeakey plans to do a version of an Armstrong classic, “What A Wonderful World.”

“We’ll do Louis Prima and Keely Smith’s “Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ as a duet, and Brett’s singing `What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve,’” Cain adds.

The latter is one of the holiday numbers scheduled for Sunday. However, Cain says, what she and her musical cohorts present then doesn’t really focus on songs of the season.

“The show’s called Comes Love, and it’s about love lost, love desired, love in all its forms, with a sprinkling of holiday songs: `Santa, Baby,’ `I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.’ That one may not exactly be a Christmas song, but it alludes to winter and overcoats.”

As she notes, the numbers in the show are bound together by their emphasis on love in its various forms. But virtually all of them fit nicely into the jazz idiom as well. This time around, that’s just fine for Cain, who deeply appreciates the audiences that come to see her and other area musicians at the Jazz Depot.

“It’s great to be singing for folks who are true aficionados of jazz,” she says. “They’re all there to listen, and that’s probably the most supportive crowd you could ever have.”

In addition to starring in her own Jazz Depot shows, Cain also joins Pam Van Dyke Crosby and Rebecca Ungerman in the vocal trio for the twice-monthly Sweet & Hot Dances at the Depot. Next up on the Sweet & Hot docket is the Santa Baby Ball, set for Friday, December 21. Backed by a four-piece band, the singers begin at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is $10 at the door.

Meanwhile, Cindy Cain’s Comes Love is scheduled begin Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St.

Tickets can be purchased at the Depot or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.  Refreshments will be available for purchase.

Cain’s show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s Winter Concert Series.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is 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.

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