With the French and the Italian Riviera
experiencing the peak of the vacation and tourist season, the
grand-daddy of 'em all,
Monte Carlo - The Principality of Monaco, now begins to flow with every sort of upper crust character, from the nouveau-riche,
to the get-rich-or-die-tryin', to the most glaring of charlatans. It's like travelling on a subway with leather couches and chandeliers.
You'd better know how to look and where and when to look it. There's nothing worse in Monaco than getiin' busted for being faux.
(breast implants excluded)
As the Ty Stephens Romantasy show
cements itself as the staple of early evening entertainment on the
The Sporting Club boldly presents its six most dissimilar acts, in a week of one night stands.
Here we go:
We have discovered one musical certainty
here; we never know what to expect from an audience with regard to a
Jean-Louis Aubert is a nondescript personality, a French guitarist of my generation, an almost disheveled, barefooted Bohemian.
He performed solo, his guitar playing augmented with background electo-audio tracks and an occasional pedestrian stint at a
keyboard-synthesizer rack. The crowd went wild as I crouched at my secret photographer nest on the catwalk above the stage,
snapping pictures with a WTF look on my face. After his final piece, Aubert was beseeched for encore after encore - ten in all.
He finally shooed himself off the stage laughing with thanks as the audience, who knew all of his songs, noisily melted away.
This young woman who sings folk songs in
French, English and Hebrew, cut her performance teeth with the
Israeli Air Force Orchestra.
No stranger to displaying her wares to, the guys, she stitched together an absorbing set, considering a somewhat confined repertoire.
Slight as she is in stature, she struck an imposing figure onstage with her dark, flaming red hair and inviting vocalise. Her command
of three tongues was the lynchpin of her expertise; for those who truly appreciate music and interpretation, she never became predictable.
Roll up Frank Sinatra, Lou Rawls and
Barry White into a six-foot-five, crossover crooner and you'll likely
experience what Mario Biondi
has to offer. Undoubtedly influenced by 40s Pop, 60s Jazz and 80s R&B, Mario throws his Sicilian vigor around with a confidence
based on the blessings of a deep voice and a rooted sensitivity, neither of which is mired in mimicry. Backed by a well rehearsed,
big band, he easily traversed the two hours he spent regaling his cultivated audience, which truly was appreciative of a younger
keeper of the flame. In this writer's opinion, he would have really benefited from a couple of ON FIRE arrangements.
In what was billed as ASIAN NIGHT,
Fadl Shaker's orchestra totally threw me for a loop-de-loop. This was
MIDDLE EAST NIGHT and perhaps
the misnomer was purposely circulated to quell the present anti-Muslim sentiment (and to protect ticket sales). Shaker, from Lebanon,
presented an evening of traditional Arabic music, played in the original style, using instruments like the tablah (hand drum), the qanun (harp),
the mijwiz (a double reed woodwind) and the buzuq (lute), all augmented by traditional western orchestral and band instruments. I've got to commend
the Sporting Club on the musical choices they made this year and this week certainly conglobulates this season's harmonious delirium.
Hey, this is some of what Danny Thomas might have been doing had he not been completely assimilated!
This child... Lord have mercy! Endlessly
energetic, completely unpredictable, totally out of her mind... an
art director's worst nightmare.
Alanis is a young but old fashioned acid rocker who is a jagged pinball, bouncing off of anything that is in her path. Thank goodness she
stopped careening after every other song to take a swig from an unlabeled bottle of who knows what. After I checked to ascertain that
all of my teeth and internal organs remained intact, I came to evaluate her music as well put together; she was able to match her physical
mania and discordant arrangements to a quirky, nuanced voice which only occasionally reached as high a level as her support system.
I must say, a plethora of youngsters
these days are reaching back into the classic styles of performance
and delivery to inform their own
forward stepping creative processes. Jamie Cullum (another 29-something) is quiet and pensive offstage, preparing in the wings with a
large snifter of vin rouge, then quietly walking onstage to his grand piano, stripped of it's wooden rooftop so as to deliver a maximum,
upward thrust, where he transforms into a solo yo-yo of vocal and pianistic emotion. Channelling styles from Errol Garner to Victor Borge,
Jamie freely engaged an audience of appreciative elders with classics and pops, not to mention, some really good modern saloon piano playing.
Jusqu'a la prochaine fois!
Fino alla prossima volta!