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San Fran Symphony visits, Janice Mann's jazz house party
by Milton W. Hamlin - SGN A&E Writer

It's another terrific week for Emerald City arts fans. The sun is actually mentioned in weather reports, theaters are starting up again after a holiday calendar full of family fare, and touring shows are on the horizon. Read on:

SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY VISITS NEXT WEEK FOR TWO DIFFERENT CONCERTS
The internationally celebrated San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, conducted by its openly Gay artistic director, Michael Tilson Thomas, arrives in Seattle next week for two concerts, Tuesday and Wednesday, hosted by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra as part of SSO's visiting orchestra series. The Tuesday, January 20, evening features music by Copeland, Berg and Brahms. Copeland's rarely performed suite for the film Our Town is a highlight of the Tuesday concert.

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson joins SFO and Thomas for the Wednesday, January 21, concert featuring Prokofiev's Fifth Piano Concerto. Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 completes the Wednesday program. Tickets for both concerts start at just $20. Information is available at (206) 215-4747 or toll free at (866) 833-4747.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET OFFERS PINOCCHIO FOR FEBRUARY FAMILY AUDIENCES
Pacific Northwest Ballet, readying Balanchine's Jewels for a January 29-February 7 run, is offering a new production of Pinocchio for family audiences for three matinees, February 7 and 8. The one-hour retelling of the classic tale, with choreography by Bruce Wells, a Tacoma native, plays at 1 p.m. on February 7 with two Sunday matinees on February 8, at noon and 3:30 p.m. Tickets are "family-friendly," especially for a full PNB production. Details at (206) 441-2424.

JANICE MANN RETURNS TO SEATTLE FOR CONCERT IN WEST SEATTLE HOME
For nearly 10 years, jazz singer Janice Mann was active on the Emerald City music scene. Fondly remembered concerts at major Seattle clubs - The Pampas Room under El Gaucho, Jazz Alley, The Triple Door - made Mann a local favorite. Three years ago, she and her husband moved to Los Angeles when a career move beckoned her husband. Mann continues her singing career in the City of Angels, but periodic business trips find the pair back in Seattle for a week at a time.

Last Sunday, Mann delighted a sold-out crowd to a house concert in West Seattle. The home, humorously dubbed Casa Madrid for the afternoon, proved to be a wonderful location for the popular jazz singer. The hosts of the beautiful home - with an incredible view of Puget Sound - lined up chairs in the large living/dining room and turned the home into a welcoming jazz club for the day. The Janice Mann Trio - Seattle's talented (and very busy) pianist Bill Anschell and bassist Doug Miller and Mann - focused on jazz standards with various tributes to jazz greats of yesteryear and solo outings to show off Anschell and Miller's varied talents.

The two musicians opened the first set of the afternoon with a pleasing instrumental. Mann made her entrance, and it was obvious that the crowd was in love with the singer from the first moment she appeared. "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" seemed to be a welcome-back anthem for the concert. Mann's voice - often compared to aged brandy or burnished port - is deep and daringly, darkly warm. "You'd Be So Nice" and the following "But Beautiful" displayed it to perfection.

"That Old Devil Moon" followed in full force. It was a terrific solo, but doubly entertaining after Mann told the cheering crowd that it was a duet on her latest album, her fifth CD, which has been on the jazz charts for an incredible five months. Mann and Seattle's nationally famous Diane Schuur recorded the song for Mann's CD, and Mann joined Schuur in New York at her recent stay at the legendary Blue Note and sang it as a special guest for all four shows.

A rare, touching ballad followed, "If You Could See Me Now (You'd Know How Blue I've Been)." Mann called it a jazz standard, but it seemed new to everyone in the room, certainly to this scribe. It's a great song and Bits&Bytes is setting out to find other recordings and the song's history. Watch this space....

Mann's impeccable diction and deft phrasing were well displayed in "Day In, Day Out," the uptempo, swinging classic. Mann dedicated "I've Grown Accustomed To His Face," My Fair Lady's touching ballad, to her husband (who blushed appropriately). Mann's sensuous voice contrasted with her wistful innocence as she delivered the goods on the standard. A roof-rattling "Sometimes I'm Happy (Sometimes I'm Blue)" ended the first set. It was a tribute to Sarah Vaughn, one of Mann's idols - along with Ella, Dinah, Billie. You name 'em, Mann celebrates 'em.

The first set ended with the gray twilight of a late afternoon filling the huge picture windows. After much schmoozing, catching up "on the news," much celebration of Mann's CDs, the second set took the audience into the early evening of Emerald City darkness. A "house concert" allows an informality that is often impossible in music clubs. Seattle jazz and all music fans should be sure to sign up for future news on Mann's career at janis@janismann.com.

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