Wesla Whitfield

WESLA WHITFIELD    - LOVE WALKED IN


I've missed Wesla Whitfield. I've missed seeing her perform in New York. Those in California and in jazz clubs around the country get to see her regularly, but she has passed by Manhattan for several years now. However, just after the New Year, Love Walked In when Wesla Whitfield and her A-Plus trio appeared for two nights at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room. The audience was reminded of what a classy singer she is.

Before we get to the songs and Whitfield's signature clean tone, distinct lyrics and subtle interpretation, let's point out that she is perfectly at home entertaining her audience. Her patter is not too much, not too little, it is just right and to the point, it refers to the songs. She is tasteful in her choice of material and she is intelligent and honest in her approach to interpretation.

She is also funny, with an easy, crisp, dry wit. In this show, a sly tribute to money mixed "We're In the Money" (Dubin/Warren) into Kander and Ebb's "Money" and Harburg/Gorney's "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," ending with an ironic marriage of the last two songs. She sank into the romance and happiness of "Isn't It Romantic?" (Rodgers and Hart), a song she said is her favorite, and demonstrated how "wildly romantic" is "That Old Feeling" (Fain and Brown).

Whitfield's natural love for songs was evident in every offering. Telling the story of how she always wanted to play Nellie Forbush in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, she admitted to finally appearing in the show, but in the role of Bloody Mary. After singing a dreamy "Bali Ha'i," her jazz sensibilities kicked in for "Surrey With the Fringe on Top" from Oklahoma!, humorously stressing the carriage's "genuine leather." It is always fun hearing the various jazz interpretations of this song, but Whitfield's devotion to the lyrics and meaning gave it an extra star for excellence.

She was so delightfully exuberant racing through "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead" (Harburg/Arlen) the "Witch" referring to "W" as in the current President that even ardent conservatives could not begrudge her liberal joy.

Wesla turned with appreciation as husband/pianist/arranger Mike Greensill spun the melodies his own jazzical way and John Wiitala on bass stated the rhythm and underscored the lyrics his own jazzical way. Their "Fascinating Rhythm" never lagged. This is as tight a trio as you will find.

Wesla Whitfield has always been a cabaret favorite and her appeal proved itself again in this show. Love Walked In, and after two nights, as the song says, "That's All" (Haymes/Brandt). Like everyone else in the room, I wanted more. Bring her back for a longer run.

 

I've missed Wesla Whitfield. I've missed seeing her perform in New York. Those in California and in jazz clubs around the country get to see her regularly, but she has passed by Manhattan for several years now. However, just after the New Year, Love Walked In when Wesla Whitfield and her A-Plus trio appeared for two nights at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room. The audience was reminded of what a classy singer she is.

Before we get to the songs and Whitfield's signature clean tone, distinct lyrics and subtle interpretation, let's point out that she is perfectly at home entertaining her audience. Her patter is not too much, not too little, it is just right and to the point, it refers to the songs. She is tasteful in her choice of material and she is intelligent and honest in her approach to interpretation.

She is also funny, with an easy, crisp, dry wit. In this show, a sly tribute to money mixed "We're In the Money" (Dubin/Warren) into Kander and Ebb's "Money" and Harburg/Gorney's "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," ending with an ironic marriage of the last two songs. She sank into the romance and happiness of "Isn't It Romantic?" (Rodgers and Hart), a song she said is her favorite, and demonstrated how "wildly romantic" is "That Old Feeling" (Fain and Brown).

Whitfield's natural love for songs was evident in every offering. Telling the story of how she always wanted to play Nellie Forbush in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, she admitted to finally appearing in the show, but in the role of Bloody Mary. After singing a dreamy "Bali Ha'i," her jazz sensibilities kicked in for "Surrey With the Fringe on Top" from Oklahoma!, humorously stressing the carriage's "genuine leather." It is always fun hearing the various jazz interpretations of this song, but Whitfield's devotion to the lyrics and meaning gave it an extra star for excellence.

She was so delightfully exuberant racing through "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead" (Harburg/Arlen) the "Witch" referring to "W" as in the current President that even ardent conservatives could not begrudge her liberal joy.

Wesla turned with appreciation as husband/pianist/arranger Mike Greensill spun the melodies his own jazzical way and John Wiitala on bass stated the rhythm and underscored the lyrics his own jazzical way. Their "Fascinating Rhythm" never lagged. This is as tight a trio as you will find.

Wesla Whitfield has always been a cabaret favorite and her appeal proved itself again in this show. Love Walked In, and after two nights, as the song says, "That's All" (Haymes/Brandt). Like everyone else in the room, I wanted more. Bring her back for a longer run.

ELIZABETH AHLFORS
Jan 2 2009
Cabaret Scenes