Barbara Brady's pre-Valentine's Day performance on Friday, Feb. 11, called "Neurosis to Nirvana, The Many Faces of Love," was a good second outing for this new singer on the scene. A soloist in the Christ Church Choir downtown, she was featured at The Cabaret, the small club on Sycamore where CCM students get to try out their acts and test their mettle on open mic nights.
Brady has a keen ear for unusual material. Through her songs, she likes to trace the history of women's roles in relationships, so she opened with Fats Wallers' "I've Got a Feelin' I'm Fallin" and pulled an old Patsy Cline number out of her hat: "A Poor Man's Roses (Or A Rich Man's Gold)" (when selecting music for an evening of "neurotic love songs," Country music is just too rich a source to overlook!). "Something So Right," a little gem of a song by Paul Simon was another happy choice. She took on Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" and Hoagy Carmichel's "Skylark," both difficult to sing or play, complex in melody line and lyric.
In fact, Al Kiger, a Jazz trumpet player and arranger, used to insist there was a sort of elephant's burial ground for the many trumpet players who had crashed and burned coming out of the bridge to "Sophisticated Lady." I can assure him a lot of singers have, too. Brady did it without a hitch. Her act, part singing and part performance art, intrigued me. I don't think I've seen anything quite like it.
Pianist Jim Hart accompanied her beautifully; some of his chord changes were gorgeous, like standing scales on end and listening to their unaccustomed shimmer.
What songs does she think are neurotic, and what songs healthy? "The craziest love song of all times is 'It Had to Be You'' " she said, laughing. (Woody Allen, who knows his neuroses, had Diane Keaton sing it in Annie Hall.) "I mean, think about it: 'Could make me be true, could make me be blue, and even be glad just to be sad, thinking of you.' I mean, come on."
She thinks "Nature Boy" is a positive love song because it addresses vulnerability, and she likes the Paul Simon number because "it says, 'Tear down the barriers.' "
Other nights of the week, entertainment is generally up for grabs at The Cabaret. Watch for more pulled-together acts of Brady's caliber as CCM moves into the new quarter. The Cabaret is at 13th and Sycamore. Call 513-665-9100 for their schedule. As for Barbara Brady, she'll perform at the American Breast Cancer Society benefit on March 4, with Ed Moss at the piano.
On the way home from The Cabaret, Kaldi's Coffeeshop looked like it was jumping, so I went in. The Bobby Scott Trio with Steve Schmidt at the piano, and bassist Ed Felson, was playing some hot Be Bop ... what you might call "Free Jazz with rules" — and doing it very well, too. Ed Felson, who has been absent from the local Jazz scene for a while due to illness, was a happy surprise, and drummer Bobby Scott has still got his legendary energy and verve. Interestingly enough, Bobby Scott was long-time musical partner with the late, great tenor saxman, Jimmy McGary before McGary's death in the mid-1990s. Theirs was one of the few black-white musical relationships since the musician's union closed the black local sometime in the late '60s or early '70s. Pianist Frank Vincent and vocalist Larry Kinley have maintained a happy duo for many years. Steve Schmidt usually plays with Art Gore, a truly outstanding Jazz drummer, who has a regular gig at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club on Garfield Place. (The ins and outs of gigging around in Cincinnati are truly Byzantine. Don't ask who's in the band, because it often changes nightly.)
The Trio were enjoying themselves, despite an unusually boisterous audience. As Cal Collins used to say, "Just pull the bubble down, baby" (when the din becomes too great). They romped through "Alice in Wonderland," and Steve Schmidt played one of his lush mysterious intros to "Love Walked Right In." One never knows quite where Steve might show up, so if you see him playing somewhere, stop right in your tracks and sit down and listen; this guy is the Shakespeare of the piano.
KATIE LAUR, local writer and musician, provides monthly dispatches in this space from the Downtown/Main Street music scene.