TORO! :: bull by the horns

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Posts Tagged ‘tc carson’

terrible review: was this guy even at this concert?

Posted by rollinsloane on 5 March 2008

This past Sunday found me in the upper balcony of the Walt Disney Concert Hall for a musical tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, an unmatchable talent whose predilection for standards has basically ensured that all posthumous tributes inevitably end up sounding more Supper Club than soulful blues-jazz. Mercifully, the LA Phil’s line-up instead swerved across genres, featuring the Broadway showmanship of TC Carson and traditional vocals of Ann Hampton Callaway and Janis Siegel. Carson’s jazz hands were the best of that genre and both ladies could belt and scat with equal ease, but the evening belonged to self-proclaimed “new kid on the block” Ledisi. This chick may not have the biggest pipes, but she works her distinctive reedy twitter with real aplomb, and she offered Ella’s vocal creativity the show’s only totally cheese-less tribute.


Ledisi only got two of the program’s dozen-odd songs, but somehow she ended up with the two most ripe for some good old teeth-sinking — “Fly Me to the Moon” and the night-ending “Blues in the Night.”

Maybe she doesn’t deserve all the credit for her final audience-winning number. Ledisi was simply balm to the hall’s tortured ears, coming as she did on the heels of professional jazz hack Mark Murphy. If Will Ferrell hadn’t already mocked Robert Goulet to the smooth-crooner hilt, Mr. Murphy would be f-ing ripe for parody, with his personal accompanist and great dead possum of a coif.

mark murphy

Good lord, this guy poured his voice into such cringe-worthy classics as “Body and Soul” with all the subtle finesse of a ladies man at a singles’ bar.  His embarrassing display of god-awful taste was only matched by the LA Times‘ inept reviewer.  Damn you, Don Heckman!

The inner creativity — the quest to make a song her own — that was at the heart of Fitzgerald’s singing was best illustrated by veteran vocalist Mark Murphy…Finding the heart of the stories, moving lyrics around, winging freely across the harmonies, he transformed classics into up-to-the-minute interpretations, simmering with emotional density. Just the way Ella would have done.

Hoooooly cow, buddy, have you ever heard Ella Fitzgerald?  This is pure blasphemy, the editorial equivalent of giving a cute script an OSCAR (ahem, Juno) or a tribute album a GRAMMY (ahem, Herbie).  In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say this is why the newspaper business is failing — Don Heckman, pure and simple.  Congratulations, Mr. Heckman.  I’d curse you to a hell of Mark Murphy live and in person, but somehow that’s not punishment enough.




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