Review: Melba Moore at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club

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The indefatigable legendary singer and actress, Melba Moore, dazzled the crowd at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on Sunday evening. With a very strong family background in music and an early start “hitting the big time” by winning a Tony Award for Purlie, the charismatic Ms. Moore is no stranger to singing music in a wide diversity of styles aside from the theatrical; Moore has dazzled audiences singing Gospel, Pop, Soul, Rock, and R&B.

Ms. Moore primarily devoted this evening (aside from a musical nod to her theatrical roots) to an emphasis on music that was R&B and Dance –oriented. Jazzy embellishment was interspersed throughout the evening principally by the jazzy and swinging arrangements of her back up group of five musicians, a fine conductor, and three expert back-up singers. During a few interludes, this superb band performed with pulsating power and these fine singers performed with rhythmic harmony and skill.

Melba Moore. Photo courtesy of Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.
Melba Moore. Photo courtesy of Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.

Ms. Moore is promoting an innovative new album appropriately entitled Forever Moore. I have listened to the entire album and can report that it shows Moore at her best as she sings within her middle and lower register with a nice rhythmic and seductively silken quality of tone.

Moore opened her show with a two songs from her new album. The first was the affirmative and rhythmic “It’s My Time Again.” Moore sang with flashy pizzazz as she captured every joyous note of this captivating song.

Continuing in this “feel good” and upbeat vibe of the preceding song, Moore then launched into the carefree abandon of “Let’s Dance.”

As noted previously, Moore has much theatrical experience and her very successful starring role in the revolutionary musical Hair was shown to great advantage in a medley of songs from that show. She started off with the striking idealism of “The Age of Aquarius” and then careened fluidly into the probing and soulful pathos of “Easy to Be Hard.” She then wrapped this marvelous medley up with an air of musical exuberance while she sang the very joyous “Let the Sun Shine In.”

Moore’s triumphant anthem of the discovery of love from Purlie, namely, “I Got Love” was a jubilant cover of her well-known song, as she caressed each note with a piecing sense of joy.

Citing Lena Horne as an idol of hers, she then proceeded to sing a sultry and fiercely heartbreaking and yet defiant version of the classic “Stormy Weather.”

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Moore’s voice is wonderfully versatile but she shines at her best when she is singing softer, more rhythmic songs. Ms. Moore pushes through right to the final notes while embracing the emotion underneath each and every note she sings.

Cole Porter’s classic “I Concentrate on You” was particularly well-suited to her range. Moore sang each line with subtle, seductive phrasing and gave a long pleasurably drawn-out rendering of the final refrain. As Moore slowly sang “I Concentrate on You” with expert timing, chills went up my spine.

“This is It” was another wonderful song and was delivered by Ms. Moore with a rhythmic beat that set the pulse racing.

“Love’s Comin’ Atcha” had an interesting, rhythmic quality that held the audience spellbound.

The entrancing “You Stepped into My Life” had a wonderful groove of cadence and pattern that immersed the listener into an almost euphoric yet, alternating freeing and relaxing mood.

As the Concert drew to a close, Ms. Moore sang the wonderful “Lean On Me” with passion and urgency throughout.

Melba Moore and David Friscic. Photo by Tom Goodwin.
Melba Moore and David Friscic. Photo by Tom Goodwin.

Melba Moore injected just about the right amount of patter and anecdotes between her act and she projected a warm and friendly rapport with her audience throughout. She mentioned her warm regard for the singer, producer, and songwriter Kashif who passed away recently; Kashif was an important part of Ms. Moore’s career. Moore also paid a hearty tribute to the great singer and actress Sarah Dash of Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles; Ms. Dash had recently performed at this very same wonderful Club and was in attendance at Moore’s show. Moore generously invited her up to the stage, embraced her and warmly introduced her.

Melba Moore is an exciting and eclectic talent. She is a musical inspiration to all in this rapidly changing world —especially since she is always open to new musical challenges.

The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club should be commended for presenting so many fine talents at their venue.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.

Melba Moore performed on Sunday, October 2, 2016, at 8 PM at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club – 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, in Bethesda, MD. For tickets to future events, purchase them online.

LINK:
An Interview with Tony Award Winner Melba Moore-Appearing at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club-Tomorrow, October 2nd at 8 PM Night by David Friscic.

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David Friscic
David has always had a passionate interest in the arts from acting in professional dinner theatre and community theatre to reviewing film and local theatre in college to making numerous treks to New York City to indulge his interest in live theatre. An enthusiastic interest in writing has shown itself in a BA in English/Education and an MA in English Literature. Taken together, these two interests have culminated in the logical conclusion of writing for an arts blog. David moved up and down the East Coast due to his father's job at General Electric and this has helped him to perceive the world in a very open way. After his schooling, David taught in Catholic school systems for awhile and, then, spent three years in the seminary with two years at Catholic University studying Theology and one year in a practicuum working at a church in New York State. David currently works at the National Science Foundation as a Technical Information Specialist for the Office of Polar Programs and has had the great opportunity to go to Antarctica twice and Greenland once in support of the research community. He enjoys living in Bethesda and has taken courses at the Writer's Center. David enjoys swimming, traveling, reading, and working on committees at his condo. His major interest, however, is the arts and all it encompasses---from symphony, to film, to museum treks to live theatre. He counts having lunch with Lillian Gish and meeting Lily Tomlin, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, Liza Minnelli and Sandy Dennis as some of the more exciting encounters of his life.