Monday, August 21, 2000

Jazz legend Shirley Horn lived up to her title

By Cecelia D. Johnson
Enquirer contributor

        There are few true jazz legends left, and one of the last vestiges of royalty graced Cincinnati Friday night to the delight of a near-capacity crowd in the Music Hall Ballroom. The Crown Jewels of Jazz, the very grand finale of the 'Hood is Bigger Than You Think Tour' and benefit for Learning Through Art, Inc. (LTA) presented the magnificent Shirley Horn and Queen City's jazz gem, Kathy Wade.

        Ms. Wade (who serves as the executive director LTA), began the evening with a set that included “Fly Me To The Moon,” “The Newness of You,” “All of Me,” and “There Will Be Nights Like This.” Backed by the Ed Moss Trio (Bob Bodley on bass, Francis Wyatt on drums and Ed Moss on piano, her take of “Bye Bye Blackbird” provided an excellent showcase for her scatting skills.

        Throughout her career, Ms. Horn has been associated with some of the giants of idiom, including Quincy Jones, Elvin Jones, Joe Henderson and Miles Davis. She displayed the talents drew her to the attention of the esteemed sidemen — her gift of timing and understatement.

        Performing with her impeccable trio (bassist Charles Ables and drummer Steve Williams) Ms. Horn delivered a memorable evening of elegance and sophistication. A sensation on the piano, Ms. Horn held the audience in her hand throughout her 12-song performance.

        Beginning with “You Could Be Liking It, Too,” Ms. Horn serenaded with an outstanding assortment of standards and ballads, adding her light touch in phrasing and nuances. “A Time for Love” was haunting in its simple elegance in contrast to the next selection, “Just In Time” which found the trio swinging while Ms. Horn added in her vocal delivery.

        Ms. Horn's take on “Fever” was contagious as the audience kept time with hand claps and finger snaps. “Wouldn't It Be Loverly” showcased her interpretive skills while “Return to Paradise” was lush in melancholy.

        The hallmark of a consummate artist was evidence with the rapt attention Ms. Horn commanded. She claimed Leon Russell's “My Song For You” as her own, adding depth as she caressed the lyrics in the sparse arrangement, underscored with subtle texture offered by Mr. Williams' brush strokes on his drums.

        Earlier in the evening, LTA honored educator Wylie Ferguson and Drs. Stanley and Mickey Kaplan for their contributions and dedication to the arts.


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