A Swinging Night

Last night, we went to the Hollywood Bowl. We do this about once a year, depending on who the artists are. Last night was a night of Swing music.

The opening act was Sophie Milman, a young Canadian singer who grew up in Russia and Israel. I wasn’t that impressed with her: her stylings were off, she had odd hand movements, she seemed to slur her words, and her choice of music was just… odd. A jazz version of “Matchmaker Matchmaker”? Give me a break.

The first main act was the Manhattan Transfer. This is a group of four jazz and swing singers who do a remarkable job. Their act was swinging and very enjoyable, but not quite as energetic as the second act. There was some remarkable scat singing, however.

The second act (after the intermission) was what we came for: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Their focus for the evening was the music of Cab Calloway, although they did a number of their favorite numbers. They noted they will be releasing a new album in February 2008. In any case, this show had them dancing in the aisle (and the row in front of us, which annoyed ixixlix). But it was a great set, and left us with lots and lots of energy. I just love BBVD’s music. Their act also featured the dancing of the Hollywood Hornets.

So, all in all, a good night, although I got home way to late, especially when I had to get up at 4:45am. Somehow I made it to work, but did have a slight headache I had to beat down. But for BBVD, it was worth it.

As usual… what’s next? Next up on our theatre calendar is “Parade” at Neighborhood Playhouse, Palos Verdes (Sat 7/19 @ 8pm), “Looped” at Pasadena Playhouse (Sat 7/26 @ 8pm), “Singing in the Rain” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (Sat 8/2 @ 2pm), and “Assassins” at West Coast Ensemble (Sun 8/10 @ 2pm).


Swingin’ at the Bowl

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post asking what were the sounds you only hear during the summer? If you’re in Los Angeles, I heard one of them last night: concert music and fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl. More specifically, the sounds of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the Hollywood Bowl.

Let me explain the bowl for those unfamiliar: what you have is a large natural amphitheatre that seats loads and loads of people (just under 18,000), out under the stars. Seats range from pricey private boxes to the nosebleed benches. The sound is wonderful. You bring a picnic dinner, enjoy the food, and then enjoy the show.

The program last night started with the Hollywood Bowl orchestra, conducted by Michael Krajewski. The program for the evening was “Jump, Jive, and Swing!”, and their music consisted of just that:

  • Bugle Call Rag (Jack Pettis)
  • South Rampart Street Parade (Ray Bauduc, Bob Haggart)
  • ”Essential Ellington” (a medly of Duke Ellington swing music)
  • April in Paris (Vernon Duke, done in the Count Basie style)
  • One O’Clock Jump (Count Basie)
  • In The Mood (Joseph Garland)

For a number of these songs, a local swing dance group, the Hollywood Hornets, joined the band on the stage.

After intermission, it was time for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The last time we saw BBVD was at CSUN, in an enclosed auditorium. The music was great, but it was LOUD! The bowl was a much better venue, volume-wise (especially as we were in T1, one tier below the nosebleed seats). They did their usual great program. I didn’t write all the songs, but it included many of their big hits and our favorites: Minnie the Moocher, Save My Soul, You & Me & The Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby), Go Daddy-O, Jumpin’ Jack, I Wanna Be Like You, King Of Swing, Zig Zaggity Woop Woop, and Mr. Pinstripe Suit. They do a wonderful show that can’t help but leaving you feeling good. The Hollywood Hornets provided some dancing on the stage.

The program closed with the Hollywood Orchestra doing “Sing! Sing! Sing!” by Louis Prima… with fireworks timed to the music. After this, all the artists came out to join BBVD in So Long, Farewell, Goodbye (music samples).

It was a wonderful show, although with the park-and-ride busses to and from the bowl, it was a late, late evening.

Next up on the concert calendar is likely “Tom Paxton” at McCabes on December 2nd, although I need to move some Pasadena Playhouse tickets first. In terms of theatre, next up is “Avenue Q” at the Ahmanson on 9/15 @ 2:00pm; “Matter of Honor” at the Pasadena Playhouse on 9/22 @ 8:00pm; and “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” at REP East on 10/6 @ 8:00pm


I Got Rhythm / I Got Music / I Got My Gal / Who Could Ask For Anything More?

Last night, some dear friends invited us to join them in their box seats for an evening at the Hollywood Bowl. For those unfamiliar with the bowl, it is one of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a current seating capacity of just under 18,000. Opened in 1922, the Hollywood Bowl has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and, in 1991 gave its name to a resident ensemble that has filled a special niche in the musical life of Southern California, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Last night’s program was the first program in a multi-day George Gershwin celebration. The program featured the LA Philharmonic, with Leonard Slatkin conducting and Jean-Yves Thibaudet at the Grand Piano, doing:

The Grofé and Bennett pieces were in the program because they were long-time arrangers for George Gershwin. This program is repeated this coming Thursday. Attendence was around 8,700.

This was my first time at a true concert in ages. I found it very relaxing: the wine, the cheese, the fruit, the company, the music. It was also my daughter’s first time at a concert such as this. Initially bored (and wishing she had brought Wicked to read), I think she got into it by the end. All I know is that I’m tired today: we didn’t get home until around 11:30pm… and I get up at 4:30 am!