Part One: THE CARDS OUTDO THEMSELVES (Feb. 27, 2010)

It was an immense thrill to hear and see the Cangelosi Cards on Saturday, February 27, 2010, at the Shambhala Meditation Center in New York City on 22nd Street.  That’s not an idle statement.

Before this, I had seen the Cards primarily at Banjo Jim’s, where the atmosphere was exuberant and loud.  And for all their own exuberance, they are truly a subtle band, so I had to strain to hear them.  But the Shambhala provided a large, quiet wood-floored space.  True, an overhead fan clicks at the beginning of this performance, but that sound is swallowed up by the rhythm section.  And (perhaps a small point?) the dancers were in back of me and the room was well-lit, so I was able to capture the Cards as they should be captured.  Those dancers, by the way, included Eve Polich of “Avalon” and Heidi Rosenau and Joe McGlynn.  The whole delightful event was the idea of Paul Wegener, a fan of the Cards from way back, who had the inspired idea of bringing them to this wonderfully open, serene, receptive space.

This edition of the Cards included the regular brilliant musicians: Jake Sanders on banjo, Marcus Milius on harmonica, Dennis Lichtman on clarinet and mandolin, Tamar Korn on vocals.  And there were Debbie Kennedy on bass and Gordon Au on trumpet. 

Here is the third performance of the night (after two jaunty warm-up songs): I SURRENDER, DEAR.

It’s a masterpiece of sorrowing intensity, supported throughout by the bring bring bring of Jake’s banjo and the melodic pulse of Debbie’s bass.  Marcus and Dennis seem transported; Gordon takes his time, creating one sad, thoughtful phrase after another. 

And Tamar.  I told her during the set break that I thought she was growing as a dramatic actress, and her delicate face registers every nuance of the song.  Not only in the first chorus, where she outlines the text, but in her return — becoming a muted trumpet for sixteen bars and then returning to the lyrics.  She told me that she sings this song as an expression of penitence, which is undeniable, but I also hear barely controlled rage in the way she bites off the words “a spice to the wooing.”

I dedicate this lovely, deep exploration of music and lyrics to Bing Crosby, to Harry Barris, to Louis Armstrong, to the Mills Brothers, and to Sam Parkins, who told Tamar that her singing “got him right in the gizzard.”  Truer words were never spoken, and they apply equally to the Cards as a whole.

Did I say it was a thrill to hear the Cards?  No, an honor.  A privilege.

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11 responses to “Part One: THE CARDS OUTDO THEMSELVES (Feb. 27, 2010)

  1. Pingback: Part One: THE CARDS OUTDO THEMSELVES (Feb. 27, 2010)

  2. Thank you so much for posting this piece. I lived in Brooklyn two years ago, and every chance I had I went to see the Cangelosi Cards. I was moved by their performance every time. They could very easily become one of those purely nostalgic acts; their talent prevents that, thankfully. They mine each song they play for honest emotions.

  3. Hey Michael…What have you been doing?
    I’ve waited all week for this posting….. my favorite tune of the evening. What a night….was worth the trip from Long Island or anywhere…..Tamar & the Cards nailed this one for sure….& congratulations to you on an excellent recording.
    Jim

  4. The very best to you and Grace . . . but check out the preceding post, MY HEART’S AT EASE to find out what I’ve been doing . . . . ! Affly, Michael

  5. Dear Josh,
    Thanks for that last sentence. While I was watching this performance (and starting to cry) I thought that what Tamar and the Cards were doing was a kind of excavating, getting deeper and deeper. You have heard what I did: thanks for putting it into words for me and for all of us. Michael

  6. Doug Pomeroy

    Well, I finally have a faster computer which allows me to see an entire performance with out stopping every few seconds, and it’s a pleasure to hear the Cards, at long last! Tamar is certainly impressive, (reminds me a tiny bit of Annette Hanshaw, but better), and I look forward to hearing more of their stuff – will try to catch their 3/27 gig – I’ll start meditating a week in advance!

  7. Meditation is always fine (ask Hawkins or Ellington) but it seems to me you’ve already reached a higher level of oneness with the cosmos, Doug! MS (So happy to hear about the faster computer that arrived and is in operation.)

  8. Stompy Jones

    Agree with Doug. She’s better than Hanshaw.

  9. Yes, you’re both right. Tamar never affects cuteness or girlishness; what she’s feeling comes right through in her voice, on her face. Four more videos coming right now: enjoy her pensive, serious, trusting reading of APRIL SHOWERS: It isn’t raining rain, you know. It’s raining violets.

  10. That was really brilliant – mellowed me right out and made me swoon this morning!

  11. Bill Lowden (Jazzbobill)

    This young group is phenomenal. They say that the test of a good singer is the ballad and Tamar nails this one with her intensity and feeling. The Cards are already in my playlist and I look forward to more posts from you Michael of this infectious band.

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