Happy In Bag

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ida McBeth: An Appreciation

How many times have I seen Ida McBeth sing? Fifty? Seventy-five? Just like many music fans in Kansas City, I sometimes take the vocalist for granted.

With that unmerited negligence in mind, I dedicated early Saturday evening to a McBeth performance at Jardine's.

McBeth is better than ever.

Her striking physical beauty is intact and her dusky voice is now even more laden with emotion.

She completely invests herself in her repertoire. Songs including Irving Berlin's "You Can Have Him," Bill Withers' "Grandma's Hands" and the Rodgers and Hart standard "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" are unabashedly imbued with sorrow, bitterness and grief.

McBeth howls with anguish. Tears flow. Literally.

In peak form, McBeth is no less a distinctive and artistically important song stylist than Nancy Wilson, Nina Simone or Roberta Flack.

What's not to like? Well, I just don't dig McBeth's band. (Sorry guys.) I'd prefer either a smaller, more intimate presentation or a brassier, more commercial vibe. The current format just seems tired.

None of that matters, though, when McBeth is singing. She remains the best in Kansas City.

(Cross-posted from Plastic Sax, my Kansas City jazz site.)


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