Terese Genecco @ Iridium

by Kevin Scott Hall

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday October 14, 2010


There's a monthly party going on in New York and you're all invited. Don't be crying in your beer if you miss your chance to see Terese Genecco at Iridium while the ticket is still reasonably priced and before she moves on to the world's great halls.

The irrepressible Genecco-an old school, world class entertainer the likes of which many decry that they don't make anymore-bounds onto the stage with her (count 'em) seven piece band (her Little Big Band, she calls them) and launches into Charles Strouse's "Lot of Livin' to Do." Dressed in a black tux, shirt and tie, this dynamo-like many of the greats before her-is short in stature but gigantic in talent and charisma.

She notes in her opening patter that her show has been running at the club for a year and half. "Sadly, that qualifies us as the longest-running nightclub act on Broadway. There are not a lot of us doing this anymore." No, there are not . . . and perhaps only a few that can manage it with such aplomb.

Genecco introduces her pianist, Barry Levitt, as "the maestro," with whom she's been working for five years. Back then, she was wowing audiences in San Francisco, which was then her home base.

A full-throttle celebration

However, she's not one to call any one place home, she says, introducing "Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home" (Arlen/Mercer). She sings it as a defiant, tour-de-force and it's one of those nightclub moments one remembers for years to come. The band is simply amazing, and Mark Miller on trombone gets a special nod for his efforts on this number.

At another point, Genecco introduces a song by saying, "I don't know who wrote it and I don't care!" (It was, in fact, Mercer's "Something's Gotta Give"). No, this is not the Andrea Marcovicci school of cabaret, with its impressive historical anecdotes. It's a full-throttle celebration.

Of course, Genecco has tongue firmly planted in cheek. She is such a musician, from the ends of her tapping toes to the tips of her outstretched fingers, there is no way she doesn't know everything about the music she does so well.

Despite all that glorious sound surrounding her, not a word is lost. Her instrument-with both the comforting tones of kd lang and the drive of LuPone-perfectly matches those around her and her diction is impeccable.

Genecco is completely at ease with her audience. She has diva-like talent and yet one still wants to hang out with her after the show, she is so welcoming.

She is also refreshingly candid and flirty about her sexuality. Introducing her guitarist, Sean Harkness, she says, "He's so pretty, why should I give him more props? All the girls I'm looking at go to him!"

Later, during a guest appearance by Scott Barbarino and the three nubile Tropicabana Girls, Genecco takes turns wedging herself between them and shamelessly ogling them up and down.

Other triumphs include a soaring version of "Come Rain or Come Shine" (Arlen/Mercer) and, incredibly, a recreation of Sammy Davis Jr.'s "West Side Story" medley. Both feature the stunning work of Mayra Casales on percussion, the latter being sung with only percussion.

"It's a little bit like jumping out of an airplane," Genecco says of the "West Side Story" medley. "Tonight" gave this reviewer goose bumps. Genecco stayed in rhythm and on pitch throughout this marathan but missed one high note. She tossed off an aw-shucks remark and continued on. The mistake was almost welcome-the audience was able to breathe again after the suspense created in that skydiving act.

Genecco offered "Viva Las Vegas" from her Elvis show but that material didn't quite live up to the well-known standards she had been delivering. She is a big band singer through and through.

She ended the evening with an all-encompassing rendition of "Kansas City," which allowed each band member to take a solo.

Terese Genecco's enthusiasm is boyish but her passion is all woman.

In closing, one must ask, "New York Times, Broadway producers, where are you?" Someone should be writing a show for this woman. If the powers that be think there are no new big stars to be found, they aren't looking hard enough.

My suggestion? Get out from behind your big mahogany desk and get yourself down to the Iridium on the last Tuesday of the month. Pronto. This kind of comet doesn't pass our way nearly often enough.

Terese Genecco will appear at the Iridium Jazz Club (www.iridiumjazz.com) on Tuesday, October 26, 2010 @ 8:00 and 10:00 sets. Special guest appearance with Karen Mason. See the website for more details; visit visit Terese Genecco's website for more about the singer.

Kevin Scott Hall is the author of Off the Charts! (2010, iUniverse) and the memoir, A Quarter Inch from My Heart (2014, Wisdom Moon).