This review of Janis Siegel at The D Lounge was written by Andrew Martin and appeared in Volume II, Issue 1 (March, 1998) of Applause! Applause! published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens.
The D Lounge (Delmonico Hotel; 502 Park Avenue, NYC)
Reviewed 3/15/98 at 7:00 p.m.
The show got off to such a casual start, you almost couldn't believe you were there to see Janis Siegel, best known as lead vocalist for The Manhattan Transfer ("The Boy From New York City", "Here In The Twilight", "Ray's Rockhouse", etc.). But from the moment the thrush's silky voice descended over the tiny crowd of die-hard jazz enthusiasts, fans of the group were falling hook, line and sinker, and with good reason -- Siegel and the new space at the Delmonico Hotel are as perfectly matched as Mabel Mercer and Upstairs at the Downstairs in cabaret days gone by.
The Manhattan Transfer, arguably the most in-demand vocal group in pop music since the Ink Spots, have managed to remain at the very top of their pinnacle since their earliest origins. Comprised of Cheryl Bentyne, Tim Hauser and Alan Paul in addition to Siegel, the group has done everything from Diet Coke endorsements to songs that have now become pop classics. Their latest album, "Swing" (on the Atlantic label) cements the group's success as top jazz artists, and an upcoming concert appearance at the Westbury Music Fair is merely gravy for the foursome's devotees.
Janis Siegel, however, who has knocked around cabaret as a solo act for the last several seasons (including SRO appearances at Rainbow & Stars with pianist Fred Hersch), comes up swinging with an Ella Fitzgerald tribute at the Delmonico. A re-creation of "A Tisket A Tasket" is masterfully performed, and without the Transfer as recorded on the aforementioned "Swing". Her treatment of composer Billy Strayhorn is particularly sensitive, as evidenced on "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing", "Lotus Blossom", "I Want Something To Live For", and "Love Has Passed Me By Again".
As if that wasn't enough, the legendary Jon Hendricks came out of the audience to join the lady on "Lady Be Good"! And Kenny Werner on the ivories plus Drew Gress on bass only serve to heighten what is already musical genius on the part of the lady.