I had heard a number of Janet Klein’s performances on CD and seen some videos on YouTube, but they hadn’t prepared me for her work in person. Although she may be perfectly at ease in this century, someone who can use an ATM while drinking her latte, when she gets onstage, she seems to be absolutely from another world. As someone once said of Max Morath, Janet is consciously out of touch with her environment, and that is a compliment.
Although her musicians may have iPhones in their pockets, Janet creates a small time-bubble that sits comfortably in some undefined realm between 1929 and 1936. Mae Questel hangs out there, as do Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang. See for yourself. Here are Janet (vocal and ukulele) and her Parlor Boys (Dan Weinstein on a variety of instruments, including violin, cornet, and trombone; Marquis Howell on string bass; our own John Reynolds on guitar and other things with strings; Brad Kay on piano as a guest star).
A LITTLE BIT INDEPENDENT was a very popular song in 1936, I believe, and it was recorded by Fats Waller and several of the pianist-singers who floated in his wake. It’s not Porter, but you’ll find yourself humming it for some time:
MOUNTAIN GREENERY was a sweetly ironic commentary on the urban surroundings:
And a song recorded (as far as I know) only by Baby Rose Marie, who grew up to be a mainstay of the Dick Van Dyke television show — SAY THAT YOU WERE TEASING ME, its content more sad than frolicsome:
I’m glad that Janet and her Parlor Boys took us away from 2011 for a little while!