Let us hope that our days and nights always have room for beauty.
I’ve posted performances from a delightful concert by Yaala Ballin, vocal; Michael Kanan, piano — at St. John’s in the Village, a welcoming Episcopal church on West 11th Street in Greenwich Village, New York. Valentine’s Day 2020 was a perfect reason for the charming event that Yaala and Michael have perfected, where audience members were given a list of classic songs and asked to pick two they especially wanted to hear . . . then, in true quiz show fashion, Yaala reached into the basket of paper slips, drew one out, showed the name to Michael, and that was the next number. Joyous and alive, and an intoxicating combination of emotional energy and a sweet embracing calm.
Yaala and Michael love and respect the melodies and the emotions that animate the songs, and they are also playful explorers: with the secure magic carpet of Michael’s accompaniment, Yaala can stretch the line, deliver some words in speech, offer suspenseful pauses: in effect, build new houses on familiar ground. Michael continues to be heartfelt, swinging, and sly — within the space of an eight-bar bridge — his solos translucent marvels where melody and variations float as if skywritten.
I first met and heard Michael (because of the encouragement of the great saxophonist Joel Press) in 2010, and I believe Michael told me about Yaala in 2013 . . . so I have been an admirer for a long time. A long rewarding time.
A favorite of mine, UNDER A BLANKET OF BLUE:
I WISHED ON THE MOON, homage to Billie but also to the song as it existed before she got to it:
Porter meets Kern, EASY TO LOVE / WHY DO I LOVE YOU?:
I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TIME IT WAS:
Beguiled again, for sure. There’s more from this wonderful concert . . . and I hope we will see this magic pair again when the collective skies are blue blankets.
In the interim, you would enjoy Yaala’s newest CD, devoted to her non-relative, Israel Balline — with Ari Roland, Chris Flory, and Michael . . . I think it’s wonderful and said so here —
May your happiness increase!