The New York Voices celebrate 20th anniversary
The New York Voices celebrate 20th anniversary
by E Joyce Glasgow - SGN A&E Writer

The New York Voices
March 20-23
Dimitriou's Jazz Alley


The New York Voices, the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble, are celebrating their 20th anniversary with the release of their first CD in seven years, A Day Like This. They recently played an exciting and energized Valentine's week stint at the Jazz Standard in New York City. Vocalists Lauren Kinhan, Kim Nazarian, Darmon Meader and Peter Eldridge were joined by their regular trio of Alon Yavnai (piano), Paul Nowinski (bass) and Marcello Pellitteri (drums). Meader also contributes on tenor saxophone and Eldridge on piano.

I took in two sets on their final night. They were in particularly high spirits because many of their parents and other relatives and two of their original members, Sara Krieger and Caprice Fox, were in the audience that night to help celebrate their 20 years together.

Their sets were full of life and good energy. They utilize very tight, complex and sophisticated vocal jazz harmonies in their musical arrangements, bringing a fresh, unique approach to an eclectic repertoire of songs from pop pieces by Paul Simon, Laura Nyro and Stevie Wonder, to jazz standards, blues, Brazilian music and their distinctive original material. They are Vocalise enthusiasts, following in the footsteps of the great Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.

NYV's creativity and popularity have taken them around the world. They have collaborated with Paquito d'Rivera, Ivan Lins, the Count Basie Band, Nancy Wilson, Bobby McFerrin, Ray Brown and many other jazz icons.

At their Jazz Standard performance, my two favorite pieces were both original tunes, "As We Live and Breathe" by Lauren Kinhan and Eve Nelson, and "The World Keeps You Waiting" by Kinhan and Peter Eldridge. All the group's members participate in arranging songs. They sang several songs from their Paul Simon tribute album including "Cecilia," "Baby Driver," "Old Friends," and an especially terrific version of "So Long Frank Lloyd Wright." Also; a fast, tongue-twisting vocalise about a mouse named "Jackie," their take on John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" that they've entitled "Notice the Moment," "Caravan" and "Love You Madly" by Duke Ellington and "Round Midnight" by Thelonious Monk. I really enjoyed their spunky interpretation of Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" and their versions of Laura Nyro's "Stoned Soul Picnic" and the wonderful, old standard ballad, "For All We Know."

The group will treat Seattle audiences next week to many of the songs on the new CD, as well as old favorites. New York Voices' music is animated, uplifting, enlivening, heart-filled and just plain fun. I highly recommend catching them during their four-night appearance at the Jazz Alley for a satisfying night out on the town.

New York Voices will perform at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, joined by Randy Porter (piano), Paul Nowinski (bass) and Steve Barnes (drums), March 20-23. Visit: www.jazzalley.com for information and reservations. To learn more about the New York Voices visit: www.newyorkvoices.com. To find out more about the upcoming music schedule and tasty, southern style menu at the Jazz Standard, one of the premiere jazz venues in New York City visit: www.jazzstandard.com.
The Reel Spin - Oscar to Jodie Foster: 'Hollywood loves ya, baby!'
by Ron Anders - SGN A&E Writer

Now that Academy Awards fever has subsided - for a few milliseconds at least - let's take a look at one of Oscar's darlings: A bankable Hollywood star who manages to stay above the title and just under the radar (read: Gaydar). Eminently professional, dauntingly intelligent, effortlessly poised and just plain fascinating to watch, Jodie Foster has largely managed to embody the proverbial riddle wrapped up in an enigma. Her personal life has been kept guardedly private - not easy for someone in the business of show - and there has been endless speculation by the Hollywood gossip machine about her sexual orientation. Foster finally came out (more or less) by thanking Cydney Bernard, her partner of 14 years, after being honored at last December's annual Women in Entertainment event in Hollywood. The revelation barely registered on the Richter Scale.

With four Oscar nominations and two wins (both before the age of 30), two BAFTA Awards and a slew of international accolades, she has piqued our curiosity since the tender age of three, when she made her first appearance in commercials. Launching her acting career a few years later in the TV series Mayberry R.F.D., she has built a body of film work (as an actor, producer and director) which has earned the respect of her peers, who have given her entrance to the exclusive club of performers who have won multiple Oscars.

As a self-professed Foster fan, I was eagerly anticipating her latest film, The Brave One, recently released on DVD. Her role as Erica Bain - a New York City public radio talk show host who barely survives a vicious, random attack in which her fiancé is killed - joins her recent portraits of women as reluctant warriors (Flightplan, Panic Room). Haunted and paranoid in her previously beloved New York, she gets a gun and finds herself taking horrific revenge on those who have hurt her and who intend to hurt others. She morphs into an unwitting liberator of the downtrodden, an angel of death whose retribution makes the mean streets unsafe for those who prey on the innocent. Foster comes full circle from her role as an adolescent prostitute in Taxi Driver, who is "saved" by Robert De Niro's psychotic vigilante in Martin Scorsese's ferocious 1976 masterwork. That film catapulted her to stardom and earned her the first of her Oscar nominations.

The Brave One is never less than absorbing, largely due to Foster's gripping, understated performance. She is onscreen for nearly the entire running time of the film and the camera loves the taut, elegant lines of her face. Her megawatt star power, however, is not able to save a script which flounders in a sea of improbabilities. The film's aspirations as both a thriller and an existential good-versus-evil allegory are evidently meant to distinguish it from the Death Wish vigilante movies of the 1970s and 1980s. Thus, it gives us a heroine who reveals her inner conflict about her crimes - and her seeming inability to stop herself. This conceit works - but was not ultimately effective in helping this viewer suspend disbelief. Psychological motivations aside, the film's credibility takes a fatal turn towards the incredulous in the cat-and-mouse game played out between Foster and Terrence Howard (who seems to get more dreamily handsome with each screen appearance) as the police investigator who suspects Erica of her crimes. Their final confrontation robs the film of any potency it may have had as an action flick or message movie. You won't be bored by The Brave One, but neither will you be enlightened.

For those who want to see more of Jodie Foster (and we are legion), here is a small sampling of her finest hours on film:

Home for the Holidays. Foster's sophomore directorial effort features Holly Hunter as a comically beleaguered single mom who does not relish the idea of joining her family for Thanksgiving. Thus, the scene is set for a portrait of the exasperation that seasonal family gatherings are (in)famous for. The film is also a gentle reminder of the power of blood family connections - for better or worse. As a director, Foster shows obvious respect and affection for the actors - and she is guiding some heavy hitters here: Robert Downey Jr. as the Gay brother (who has hilarious sibling chemistry with Hunter), Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning as her parents (wonderfully endearing and exasperating) and Geraldine Chaplin as dotty Aunt Gladys. This film may make you think twice about making future holiday plans with your family - but you'll have great fun in the process with this heartfelt, comic gem.

Contact. Adapted from Carl Sagan's novel, Foster plays Ellie Arroway, an astronomer whose search for extraterrestrial life comes to fruition in the form of a radio signal from space, indicating that intelligent life is somewhere out there. Her research eventually leads to a time-travel journey that is both engrossing and searingly poignant. The special effects are solidly in service of the drama and add a wonderful sense of adventure and tantalizing possibility to the tale. Robert Zemeckis' direction steers the film dangerously close to the sentimental at times, but Foster's performance insistently grounds the film in genuine emotion. The film works beautifully as a science fiction adventure with existential overtones, as well as a personal journey of our heroine's search for meaning in the universe.

The Accused. In a classic Academy Awards surprise upset, Foster won her first Oscar for her devastating portrait of a rape victim (based on a true story). When Sarah Tobias, a young woman who is gang raped in a bar, finds out that her tormentors are given light jail sentences, her rage prompts her to continue her legal battle, asking her lawyer (Kelly McGillis) to prosecute the men who cheered the on the rapists. The film skillfully examines issues of the inadequacy of our justice system as well as personal responsibility for inciting a crime. Although it doesn't shy away from depicting gritty reality (the rape scene is almost too brutal to watch), the script sometimes takes on the tone of an over-simplified, made-for-TV movie. Don't let this stop you from watching The Accused. Here, again, it is Foster's impassioned performance that makes it unmissable.

As Foster enters her mid-forties, it will be interesting to see what she has up her sleeve. Although Tinseltown gender politics are in flux, Foster still faces a traditionally sexist Hollywood, where women disappear from the screen as they get older, and men keep their place on the list of showbiz moneymakers.