By MARILYN LESTER**** Chicago’s musical husband-and-wife team Joanie Pallatto and Bradley Parker-Sparrow came East to celebrate – and with good cause. The two just released a new CD of co-composed numbers, Float Out to Sea, and are also celebrating 40 years of their record label, Southport Records. Friends, family and colleagues gathered for what Pallatto deemed, in the words of iconic TV host Ed Sullivan, “a really big show.” Opening the set was “Looking for Duke,” an original Pallatto-Sparrow composition and homage to Duke Ellington. Like their other pieces, notably “Joyce and Roy,” “The Last Circus in Town” and “Flashes of Light,” “Looking for Duke” was a kind of jazz-folk recitative – the music melodic and the lyric direct and often wry. The visual and audial Sparrow-Pallatto experience is reminiscent of the beats of the 1950s. With a little imagination one could be transported back to the coffee house days of Greenwich Village when Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac reigned supreme.
With its wordsmith/director Mark Waldrop in the house, actor Bill Nolte sang a still-timely “Laughing Matters” (music by Dick Gallagher) from Howard Crabtree’s When Pigs Fly and, representing the thespians present, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” paired with “On Broadway.” A new song written by Hillary Rollins and Matthew Levine, “She’s Lovely,” had its New York debut. In fact, it was only the second time the song had been performed publicly, this time by guest vocalist Christiana Moffa, who delivered this tear-jerker about unrequited love with passion. She also sang a spirited “You Can Always Count on Me.” Jazz vocalist Martha Lorin rounded out the guest singer list with an intense “God Bless the Child,” and also applied her smoky voice to spot-on phrasing, delivering a song that suited her especially well: “Get Happy.”
To end the set, the entire cast paid tribute to songwriter and musician Bob Dorough, a good friend of Pallatto and Sparrow. Beginning with Sparrow’s “Bob Dorough” song (a sly recitation number of the master’s name), Pallatto sang “Love (Webster’s Definition)” with wit and perfect timing, while Lorin vocalized an esspecially on-point rendition of “Small Day Tomorrow,” (Dorough/ Fran Landesman), imbuing every word of the lyric with gravitas. Pianist and accompanist Deanna Witkowski sang and played a number familiar to Dorough’s “Schoolhouse Rock” followers, a playful “Conjunction Junction.” Ending a full evening of entertainment was the entire cast with “Comin’ Home Baby” (Dorough/ Ben Tucker).
A Musical Celebration for Jazz Legend Bob Dorough and More! played at Pangea on Monday, October 23 at 7 PM.
Venue: Pangea Restaurant and Bar / 178 2nd Ave, NYC, 10003 / 212-995-0900
www.pangeanyc.com Photos: Maryann Lopinto (except CD cover and Bob Dorough)