Wesla Whitfield

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Jan. 15: Scenes from the Arts-burgh

By Bob Karlovits
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wesla Whitfield showed Friday that it is possible to add jazz influences to cabaret singing without violating either genre.

At her Cabaret Pittsburgh shows at the Renaissance Hotel, Downtown, Whitfield offered parts of the American songbook, such as "Look for the Silver Lining" and "The Way You Look Tonight."

Her versions didn't have jazz elements such as scat or improvisation, but they were full of rhythmic and harmonic inflections. She was quite faithful to the structures of the songs, however.

She and husband-pianist Mike Greensill also added another aspect from the area jazz scene: bassist Tony DePaolis, who did a fine job on material new to him. Whitfield also added bits of wit and sarcasm. In songs that could be themes for the upcoming year, for example, she offered "The Best Is Yet to Come" and "You Must Believe in Spring," which Greensill called "morbidly optimistic."