Sitting in front of a stone fireplace with the embers crackling and the snow falling on a Vermont landscape is the feeling that came over me as the sultry voice of Tanya Holt swept over the room at Iridium Jazz Club NYC. Tanya is a stunning, seductive and soft-spoken performer who uses her voice to paint the most vivid stories of hope, desire, and anticipation of romance as we wish it to be, even when we must accept what it ultimately will be. Like the lyrics of “Woman on the Stage,” our songstress is cool and confident, letting pure emotion run through her large crowd of admiring followers. The words and music for “Woman on the Stage” were provided by the multi-talented Tracy Stark. Tracy splendidly served the evening as accompanist and musical director extraordinaire. The musicians, conducted by Ms. Stark, were David Silliman on drums and Jon Burr on bass. They were first rate and added elements of importance to each of the musical numbers. One example was “The Very Thought of You”, words and music by Ray Noble. The bass solo set a passionate tone for what was to come.
Having survived a most unfortunate house fire, Tanya gave her lighthearted interpretation of “I Can Cook Too.” It wasn’t until she got around to her ability to fry did the full impact of the unfortunate, life-changing experience of burning her house down while frying chicken bring the audience to politically incorrect hysteria. I’m sure she’ll never look at fried chicken the same even as she attentively fries it to perfection.
Perfection is an operative word here, as Tanya brings perfection to the preparation and execution of her art. She appears to reach into her heart and wrap her soul around the words and music of every song she sings. These soul-infused musical gems may result in joy, they may result in hope, they may result in despair, but one thing is inevitably true: they will always result in a magical journey. Her interpretation of “Mr. Bojangles,” (Jerry Jeff Walker), brought a fire to the song’s protagonist that I have never experienced before. She brought a sense of success to his seemingly failed life.
I love “A House Is Not a Home” (Burt Bacharach and Hal David). It was taken to new heights for me when Marcus Simeone joined her on stage for a delectable duet. He has a glorious voice which blends superbly with the soothing tones that flow from Tanya. The audience was delighted to learn that Tanya and Marcus will be joining together for a once-a-month show in April. It is a show that, no doubt, will be a highlight of the season.
Iridium is an important venue in this city; the perfect combination of wonderfully prepared food, kind and attentive staff and, perhaps most important, a concerned and dedicated management. Scott Barbarino knows his talent, on the stage and off. Lucky for us he creates opportunities for the patrons to enjoy them all. Tanya Holt is one of those talents.
Tanya surrounds herself with the best — from musical director to musicians to director. Lennie Watts is the perfect choice for her as director. Being a singer himself, Mr. Watts has learned, from years of performing under a variety of circumstances, how to blend the individual voice with personal style, lyric messaging, physical presentation and performance communication. He has proved to be a master at communicating these qualities to artists who have then elevated their talents for their audiences.
You will be at home with Tanya Holt. I was and I look forward to going home again.