JAZZ CRITIC’S CHOICE
by Kirk Silsbee
One of the first things you notice about singer Judy Chamberlain is the breadth of material she has at her disposal. A Nat Cole trifle — “Frim Fram Sauce” — and the wistful “Spring Is Here” rub shoulders with the forgotten Henry Mancini theme “Two for the Road.” She can also answer a request for Nat’s “L.O.V.E.” or Goffin and King’s girlish query “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” She can essay these disparate tunes with nary a glance at her lyric binder, and that clues you to her longevity as a performer.
A native New Yorker, she began singing as a teenager in venues frequented by Capote, Warhol, and Dali. Chamberlain was a favored up-and-comer in some of the finer boítes, where she learned her craft, singing standards with good rhythm sections. She presently has a stellar unit with pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Benjamin May, and drummer Dave Tull. Her home base is Spazio (where she performs next Saturday), and, although it’s a restaurant first and a music venue second, Chamberlain gamely handles the distractions and manages to turn heads.
Not many singers can pull the verse of “As Time Goes By” out of their back pockets or pull the pickup of “Never Let Me Go” out of the air and know that the band will be underneath them with no prior signals. Not many have the taste to sing the bridge of Cole Porter’s signature “Night and Day” with only an arco bass accompaniment. These are nice touches, and they only occur when all of the musical elements are in the right place. Like next Saturday at Spazio.
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