Review of Kim Nalley and Houston Person at San Francisco’s The Rrazz Room
By Ken Vermes
How many performers can bring tears to your eyes? And I mean the good kind of tears, the ones that come from the shear joy of experiencing something special, unexpected and moving to the point of blissful, delightful joy?
Well that’s what you get from singer Kim Nally, now settled in to San Francisco’s The Rrazz Room through New Year’s Day. The tears came at a surprising and delightful moment, when Kim announced she was going to do a tribute to the great singer Etta James, who is ailing. I don’t think anyone in the audience knew that they were about to hear what must be one of the best rhythm and blues performances this listener has ever heard. And the mastery came from the unemotional and beautifully controlled execution that marks the almost casual mastery that Ms. Nally is now ready to deliver. The song, “Sunday Kind of Love,” is one many people have heard, but there are few people on earth who could have taken this tune, wrapped it around their fingers, and put in our hearts in just this way.
Kim Nalley has been a local favorite for some time now, and her level of performance has always been high. But no vocalist can be anything but thrilled to be sharing a stage with the great Houston Person. Houston may very well be one of the last in a long line of classic tenor sax players who dedicated a big part of their lives to supporting and teaming with singers. Many of today’s younger players are great, but it is doubtful that they are willing to travel the long road of one night stands over decades, and develop the unique musical love affair that is at the heart of the sax and vocal duo. Houston has traveled that road, and still has the sheer joy in his playing that he always has demonstrated.
Together, Kim and Houston are digging through to the very roots of American music, and mining gold, silver, diamonds and all of the rest. And powered by the brilliance of bass play Jeff Chambers, and the solid support of pianist Tammy Hall and drummer Kent Bryson, this group is doing a show that is rare and unique. That is the “goin’ to school” style, moving through the rich history of American and international song, from the blues shouters, to swing, Latin and beyond, and demonstrating all of the excitement and passion that makes this great song book an endless source to draw on.
With these performances, The Rrazz Room will take you back to the days, no so long ago, when emotion, swing and sheer musical power and brilliance ruled the stages of America. So don’t miss this. And this year, let us express thanks that this kind of art is still sailing though the jazz universe and that we are around to experience it one more time. Kim and Houston have arrived on the San Francisco shores. And the real music lives on. Please keep on sailing through our hearts and souls and let the world know that this spirit will never die.
Wednesday, December 28, 8pm $35
Thursday, December 29, 8pm $40
Friday, December 30, 8pm $40
Saturday, December 31, 7:30pm $75
Saturday, December 31, 10:30pm **$150
Sunday, January 1, 7pm $37.50
**10:30pm show includes party favors, champagne toast at midnight, countdown to 2012, and post-show buffet
The Rrazz Room
222 Mason Street
San Francisco 94102
For tickets and more information: 800.380.3095 or http://therrazzroom.com
Photo Used With Permission