Sunday, July 25, 2010


How is jazz legend Annie Ross celebrating her 80th birthday? By performing this Tuesday (and each Tuesday) night at 9:30 in the Metropolitan Room at 34 West 22nd Street in NYC
. Imagine that, at a time in life when ma people are inclined to sit in a rocking chair and sip tea, Annie Ross dolls herself up and does the second set at a swanky cabaret while the swells sip at their martinis and enjoy a style of music that few recall, and many fewer still perform. In Ms. Ross's case, it is a brand of musical magic that only she has ever attained. Or to be fair, that she, Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks attained. So in a way, it stands to reason that she keeps performing. Anyone who had the energy to write the crazy, swinging jazz standard “Twisted”, full of its harmonic hairpin turns and rhythmic gear changes, and then sing it, could easily feel the need to eschew artistic quietude sing as regularly as she can. There must have been something in the water supply back in the day, because I recently heard from a New York jazz fan that Jon Hendricks has been fairly active performing as well, and that he and James Moody had engaged in "a scat-sing cutting contest that you wouldn't believe" at the Blue Note last year. At the time, Jon was 83 years old and Moody 87...

For ticket prices and directions to the Metropolitan Room:

Annie Ross's career was in full swing long before she began work with Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks, in 1952 penning lyrics for and performing Wardell Gray's "Twisted." After joining forces in 1957 to create the landmark vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, they were the premiere jazz vocal group in the world. Along with Hendricks and Lambert, she continued to pioneer the emerging field known as vocalese
, the difficult but highly rewarding writing and singing of lyrics to already-composed jazz tunes and helped to make this sophisticated form sensationally popular. Various people are credited (or take credit) for "inventing" vocalese, but no one ever took on the bop harmonies rhythms and did it like Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.

An inspiration to singers from Joni Mitchell and Bette Midler, to Cheryl Bentyne and Janis Siegel and Lorraine Feather, Annie Ross is the undisputed champion.

To a musical queen, long may you reign.

Annie’s 1952 classic, “Twisted,” courtesy of YouTube:

And courtesy of, Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross live at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 2, 1960 “Swingin’ ‘til the Girls Come Home” by Oscar Pettiford

Happy Birthday, Annie!

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