Monday, March 11, 2024

Betty Bryant at The Jazz Salon, 3-10-24 Concert Review

The Jazz Salon is a weekly event that until recently was held on Thursday evenings at the Los Angeles Athletic Club in downtown L.A., and has now moved to Sundays. Last night vocalist and pianist Betty Bryant delivered two wonderful sets, backed by Dave Ross on bass, Judd Pillot on drums, and Robert Kyle on saxophone and flute. It was Betty Bryant’s first time playing at the venue since the change to Sundays, and while the crowd was perhaps a little smaller than usual, as Dave Ross mentioned, it was also more attentive. Folks were there to hear this tremendous talent, and were not disappointed.

The concert was scheduled to start at 6 p.m., and at 5:59, Betty, with a cane to aid her walk (she’s ninety-four years old), made her way to the stage to keep as close as possible to that start time. The band warmed up with an instrumental number, each musician getting a chance to shine, and Betty immediately delivering the goods on piano. The band then went into “I Remember You.” “When my life is through/And the angels ask me to recall/The thrill of it all,” Betty sang. Ah, these are the moments I will remember, catching great shows like this one. This is what it’s all about for me. The first set also included songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Jimmy Van Heusen, along with a delightful rendition of “Until The Real Thing Comes Along.” At the end of the first set, Betty Bryant got bluesy with a very cool version of “Stormy Monday,” featuring some wonderful stuff on keys, as well as great solos on saxophone and bass. This song was included on her new album, Lotta Livin’, and was a highlight of the first set.

After a thirty-minute break, Betty Bryant started the second set with another song from Lotta Livin’, “The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea,” which was one of the gems of the evening. She followed that with yet another of the show’s highlights, an original number titled “I Can’t Walk Like Tina Turner In My High-Heeled Shoes,” a song that was funny and delightful. In her introduction, she mentioned that the song was inspired by a moment when Johnny Carson said that Tina Turner was put on this planet to teach women how to walk in high-heeled shoes. Another fun number from the second set was “I Got Rhythm,” which featured an excellent lead on bass. Enjoying this song, I was struck by how Los Angeles really has some stellar musicians. I’m lucky to be living in a city with so much great music. After it, Betty said, “Thank you, Mr. Gershwin.” Robert Kyle played flute on that song, and on the one that followed it, “Baby Baby All The Time,” a song that Betty Bryant included on Lotta Livin’, and one that was a highlight of the show. She followed that with a fun rendition of “Exactly Like You,” getting the audience to sing that title line. In the middle of the song, she told the crowd, “You’re doing very well,” then delivered a wonderful lead on keys. At the end of that song, she said she was signing us all up and taking us on the road tomorrow. I got the feeling everyone in the room would have been game for that. She then gave us “A Lot Of Livin’ To Do,” the closing track from the new album. It was a treat to hear this one. Well, honestly, it was a treat to hear each song she chose to perform last night. She wrapped up the show with an original number, “The Goodbye Song.” As she sang, “to bask in the warmth of your smile,” her own smile was wide and beautiful. The show ended at 8:35 p.m.

Here are a few photos from the show:


The Jazz Salon is located on the third floor of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, at 431 W. 7th St. in Los Angeles, California. Apparently, the room is going to be reconfigured soon, and will be separate from the dining area, making it even more of a listening room, which works well for those who are there for the music. For more information on The Jazz Salon music series, and to make reservations, visit the website.

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