LIVE: Andy Bey @ the Senate Garage in Kingston, NY 9/6/19
Jazz vocals are an interesting art form. The performer conveys the meaning and interpretation of a song not just with the notes they sing, but also with the inflections of their voice and dynamics. A master of this art form is Andy Bey who had the audience in the palm of his hand at his performance in the Senate Garage.
Andy is a modest man with a self-deprecating sense of humor. Song lyrics are handwritten onto small spiral notebooks for him to recall, as his repertoire spans the Great American songbook and I am sure much more.
Andy is unlike many of the other great baritones, although his forte is ballads; his voice is as much as a musical instrument as an interpreter of words. He frequently will wordlessly scat as well as sing lyrics as well as sing in falsetto. He has had a career with twists and turns in his career which started in 1956 in a trio with his siblings, Andy and the Bey Sisters, working with Horace Silver and Gary Bartz, continuing into a sociopolitical funky/soul jazz period, working in experimental theater before returning to the piano jazz featured in this performance.
His piano playing and his singing helped convey the meaning of each song. “April in Paris” had sparse piano accompaniment and slow delivery interpreting this swinging standard into the longing into a ballad of wistful memory.
Andy’s sparse style Billie Holiday’s “Good Morning Heartache” beautifully expressed the gloom and depression from a broken heart.
The cheerful pop song “Start All Over Again” gave the audience an appreciation of how hard it is do with a ragged rhythm.
The already ragged Thelonius Monk “In Walked Bud” was scatted rather than added lyrics to add the complexity and irregularity of the tune.
The Depression Era “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” featured dynamic complex chords and Andy on occasion varying the volume of his voice to express desperation.
It was truly a privilege to witness a performance of this great yet humble artist. Many thanks to Teri Roiger and John Menegon of Jazzstock for sponsoring this event and personally transporting Andy Bey back and forth from Manhattan and Judy Tallerman of the Senate Garage for hosting this event. We are looking forward to more concerts here in the fall.