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Upcoming Performances

A Salute to Ella: The Early Years

Feinstein's at the Nikko, 222 Mason Street, San Francisco

Every legend begins somewhere... Before she became the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald was a young girl with a dream and determination. Noted chanteuse and avid promoter of the great songs and performers of the early 20th century, Amanda King shares Ella’s origins, inspiration and music in a swingin’ evening of song and history celebrating the legend.

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... she has a deliciously supple voice, capable of gliding easily from a thrumming, oaky and often sultry lower register to a delicately melodic upper tier ... there's no question Amanda King is a singer worth watching and, more important, worth hearing." Full review...” - David Wiegand

— San Francisco Chronicle

Stately grandeur and youthful intensity: the annual New York Cabaret Convention at the Rose Theater has never lacked for great ladies and refined gentlemen. But as for youth (performers under 50), it has always struggled to forge a credible connection between a nightclub tradition nearly done in by rock ’n’ roll and television and the idea of a future. This year was different. All it takes to demonstrate that somehow or other the tradition goes on is a couple of exceptional rising talents. And at the convention’s opening-night gala on Thursday, two singers — T. Oliver Reid and Amanda King — leapt out from the pack."  Full review...” - Stephen Holden

— New York Times

In a show separated into solo portions, with duets midway and to close, Amanda King and T. Oliver Reid present a roster of American Songbook selections including cabaret, pop, show tunes and jazz. Reid’s set offers bouncy, “Rat Pack” arrangements, a number from Lionel Bart’s Oliver!, and renditions of “How Long Has This Been Going On?” (George and Ira Gershwin) and “This Can’t Be Love” (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart) smoothly vocalized... King’s set—but for the mischievously sung “Midnight Swinger” (Hank Jones) and Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale”—is iconic jazz by the likes of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Billy Strayhorn. She’s got a big, rich, slightly smoky voice with as much talent for jazz and soul as swing. Long-searching arcs and sighing overtones seem effortless, as does the precision with which she improvises around a tune. Her stage persona is warm and packed with gusto. King and Reid sing together with affection and a sense of play. “Satin Doll” (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn/Johnny Mercer) is cool and breezy. Their version of “Diga Diga Doo” (Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh) is sheer piquant riffing fun, its fine arrangement, by pianist Daryl Kojak, an equal participant. “Love Is Here to Stay” (George and Ira Gershwin) sails brightly into the room on winsome vocal overlays. Alix CohenCabaret ScenesOctober 23, 2011” - Alix Cohen

Cabaret Scenes Magazine

Amanda King, the Princess of Swing, exceeds the legends at Rrazz. Photo by Lois Tema Sometimes it just takes One person to put an idea into motion or to give voice to some swinging music. This issue, we have more than one One.One Voice: What becomes a legend most? This past Monday, May 9, that question left me scratching my head, as the advertised legends accompanying a rising vocal talent didn’t rise to the level of said ascending vocalist. SF Legends, the second in Amanda King’s The Swing of Things series at the Rrazz Room, had audiences perplexed at times as well. Throughout, however, King’s vocals were a steady, shining light, giving audiences a taste as to why Amanda King is the Princess of Swing & one of the finest jazz singers performing today.  From the first offering, “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” an all-instrumental piece, pianist Bill Bell seemed a wee-bit lost, unsure as to the genre & how to bring all the instrumentalists to the same table to play as a unified force. As well, Bell was lost in the audio mix: during his solo, the drums were more present, making an already lackluster piano riff drift away as an afterthought. By the time reeds player Noel Jewkes, bassist Jeff Chambers, & drummer Eddie Marshall joined in, it was as if each was playing a piece from a different arrangement of the same tune: no cohesion or connectivity.  King joined the mix for the next tune, bringing verve & consistency to the proceedings. Her rendition of “Cherokee” alchemically pulled the instrumental quartet together, swinging the tune with style. King’s voice was well placed, focused & controlled throughout. Magical. Towards the end of the tune, Jewkes’ reed playing began making some noticeable squawking, something that should have been taken care of prior to stage time (a “Reeds 101” issue). At the very least, he should have considered adjusting it at the end of the tune. He didn’t. It became an issue throughout the evening.  “But Not for Me” had an unusual conundrum: the pieces to the Gershwin tune were all there, but never locked into place. King’s vocals were assured, rich expressive. And, for the first of a number of times throughout the evening, the audience didn’t respond to the instrumental solos, as though suddenly confused or unsure if they should or, possibly, in the case of the piano solo, it lacked polish, finesse. This became a significant problem during “Green Dolphin Street” as well. King’s voice shimmered through this semi-tropical wonderland, and Jewkes’ sax was enchanting; yet Bell’s piano unraveled the dramatic tension of the song, deflating it in a way akin to watching a souflee slowly collapse.  When it came time for “Sway,” I was taken back. Bell’s attack at the top of the song was completely without energy or dynamics, as though imploding upon himself. The tune was nearly unrecognizable; had I not had the set list I wouldn’t have recognized it, until King’s delicious singing gave rise to the tune. Bell’s rudimentary approach seemed completely counter to the tune’s sultry nature.  “Night in Tunisia” is not a simple tune by any means, yet King made it zing, continuing to rise above. But her musicians never seemed to come to the level that would have pushed her to a new performance high. A lack of cohesion & consistency plagued the instrumental accompaniment. At times the piano drifted beyond Tunisia, then snapped back spot-on. And squeaking reeds gave way to inspired riffs.  King created a medley of “Sophisticated Ladies”/ ”Round Midnight”/ ”Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry” that benefited greatly from the lush expressiveness of her voice. Her richly-rendered tones seemed to slide under the lyric and wrap around the melody, while securely comforting the heart of the experience of the medley… aural alchemy. Construction-wise, it needed a wee-bit more finessing, yet it beautifully showcased King’s exceptional instrument.  Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” was the revelation of the evening. This was the experience I was hoping the entire evening would be, each artist bringing something dynamic & special to the game, elevating each other throughout. King’s expressive intonations showed a mastery of control as the quartet solidly assayed the landscape of this lovely, somewhat haunting tune. Superb.  King is well on her way to becoming a legend. She is an artist well worth following. If there are any arts patrons out there looking to invest in a talent, King would be the artist to invest in. Her sensibility & her ability combine with a certain quality that defies capturing, yet is so inviting, comforting & desirable to listen to. An interview with Amanda before the beginning of 'The Swing of Things' - her three-night performance at San Francisco's The Rrazz Room.” - Mike Ward

San Francisco Bay Times (May 2011)

An Intimate Affair…A Man, a Woman,  and the American Songbook Thursday, October 27th, 2011 by Alix Cohen on Playing Around   Amanda King and T. Oliver Reid met a year ago and were drawn to each other’s vocal style. An Intimate Affair is broken up into a solo set for each performer with duets bridging and closing the evening. It offers American Songbook selections including cabaret, pop, a show tune, and jazz. T. Oliver Reid’s describes his set as “…love in a big city, or Boys Are Stupid.” “The Best is Yet to Come” (Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh) he begins hopefully. It’s a breezy, “Rat-Pack” arrangement. “Remember when you were 22?” he asks. “Let’s Fall in Love” (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) and “How Long Has This Been Going On?” (George and Ira Gershwin) follow. Curiously neither song is sung with a smile, either vocally or facially. Lyrics seem at odds with the performance. We’re on a relationship path. “As Long as He Needs Me” (Lionel Bart from the show, Oliver) has appropriate gravitas. Reid is the only singer I know who can stage-whisper a trill. Three love songs follow expressing surprise, insecurity and emotional dislocation. Presentation makes them feel similar. With funkier arrangements of “Ill Wind” (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) and “Feeling Good” (Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse), Reid loosens up and engages the audience. He moves around the stage, plays with phrasing and acts more at home. Amanda King is a big lady with a big beautiful, lush voice. She seems lit from within, warmth and vivacity pouring out of her as naturally as breathing. Soul, swing, and jazz numbers are offered with elegant simplicity whether pumped up or poured like syrup. Her arms move only when propelled by the necessity of expression. “Green Dolphin Street” (Bronislau Kaper/Ned Washington), “Sophisticated Lady” (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn with unearthed 1935 lyrics, not the original 1933 ones), and “Round Midnight” (Thelonious Monk/Bernie Hanighen) are among those classics all ably served. Phrases arch up and then down, circle, draw back and pause with control and finesse. The lesser known “Midnight Swinger” (Hank Jones), introduced by a personal story, puts a twinkle in her eye and ironic spin in her tone. An up tempo, mambo rendition of Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” lets her roll the word (love) around her tongue as if tasting it. When King and Reid duet, they play off one another with great affection and looseness. “She’s wearing stilts,” he quips. “This is a work of art, right here, these 4-inch heels and this ass,” she retorts with a grin. “Satin Doll” (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn/Johnny Mercer), replete with ample “switcherooni,” is bouncy and flirty. A great arrangement of the “very silly” Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh song, “Diga Diga Doo” becomes open forum for infectious vocal and instrumental riffing. Closing with a cheery, animated, swinging version of “Love is Here to Stay” (George and Ira Gershwin), the two leave an audience feeling good.” - Alix Cohen

Woman Around Town