Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Concert Review: Max Raabe und Palast Orchester at Helzberg Hall
Curious to discover what qualities allow a German big band to attain enough popularity to justify a tour of American concert halls, I bought a half-price ticket to see last week’s Kansas City debut of Max Raabe und Palast Orchester at Helzberg Hall.
I was entertained.
The audience of about 1,000 was more varied than the typical big band crowd. A prominent young burlesque dancer was seated next to me while the oldtimers behind me reminisced about Glenn Miller prior to the concert.
The broad appeal of Raabe’s ensemble was immediately apparent. The vocalist and the members of his 12-piece band are terrific showmen. Raabe is a droll comedian with an extraordinary voice.
Almost every selection included at least one subtle gag while other numbers were played entirely for laughs. Dramatic lighting aside, however, the band didn’t rely on any special effects.
With a repertoire of songs popular during the Weimar Republic, the band revived compositions by the likes of Harry James and Kurt Weill.
Formerly a skeptic, I’m a believer.
If forced to enter a talent contest, I'll revive Stan Freberg’s ”John and Marsha.” . Freberg died last week.
I reviewed a Dr. Dog concert last week.
Sunday’s outing by Mark Dresser, Myra Melford and Matt Wilson astounded me. My notes are posted at Plastic Sax.
I contributed a Local Listen segment about Kangaroo Knife Fight to KCUR.
Young Fathers’ White Men Are Black Men Too is a grower. After almost writing the album off as an assortment of unfinished demos, it finally connected with me. Here’s the video for ”Shame”.
About a third of Brian Wilson’s No Pier Pressure is solid.
Eliane Elias’ Made In Brazil is just as glossy, slick and overblown as its cover art suggests. I like it in spite of myself. RIYL: Dionne Warwick, MPB, Elis Regina.
While all is not forgiven, David Sanborn continues to redeem himself. Quartette Humaine. his 2013 collaboration with Bob James, was excellent. And the new Time and the River is a fine funk/R&B/smooth jazz project.
Lage Lund’s guitar trio album Idlewild is deceptively deep. RIYL: Emily Remler, subtle rebellion, Bill Frisell.
I don’t understand why the cool kids are fascinated with Royal Thunder. The band isn’t much different than the Pretty Reckless, a rock act that’s shunned by tastemakers. That said, I also admire Crooked Doors. RIYL: Buckcherry, “active rock”, Halestorm.
(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)