Material: The voice of Claude Hall carries a sentimental tune that has grown beyond her New York City roots and her Caribbean background. Her live show offers tales full of jubilation, boldness, musicality and improvisation. Although this solo artist has never officially released original music, her charismatic vocal technique and alluring stage presence has helped her to enlist the services of renowned jazz figure Dennis Dreith for her upcoming debut EP (August Afternoon).
Musicianship: Hall presents her live music like an actress reciting a jazz monologue on Broadway. She often enhances her contralto range with a tantalizing brand of jazz phrasing. The songstress works primarily with three music producers: Steve Rawlins, Michael Farrell and Dori Amarillo. Together they have reimagined several classic jazz songs, while making Hall’s dynamic vocal technique the foundation upon which their creative arrangements are built. The collaborative effort that best defines this group is their rendition of “Moondance.” This smooth jazz song blends elements of soul and R&B with a spirited piano solo and bebop-style drumming.
Performance: The intimate stage setting at The Baked Potato helped Hall to create a genial mood for her three-hour show. An essential part of this 27-song set was the support provided by her band. From the side of the stage, her co-writer Dori Amarillo played acoustic and electric guitar with a smooth demeanor. Meanwhile, the charismatic trio of Jamieson Trotter, Chris Colangelo and Peter Buck often aided the theatrical bravura of their lead singer with skillful musicality and comedic adlibs. When the band performed a quiet storm called “August Afternoon,” it served as a fitting way to balance the emotions of their overall performance.
Summary: Claude Hall told a story on this night, a story brimming with songs that resonated with her personal experiences. Singing in a tone reminiscent of Billie Holiday, this artist entertained her audience with an engaging essence that also echoed Lena Horne. All in all, Hall’s set proved to be a consistent balancing act of crowd engagement and vocal performance.