Livestream New York, NY
Contact: [email protected]
Players: Jonathan Finkelman, guitar; Ellen Weiss, vocals, percussion
Material: Moonglow are billed as a jazz duo, but it’s a designation more about style than repertoire. The material crosses over several genres and various eras. Kicking off the set with Laura Nyro’s “Rhythm And Blues,” they move on to “Fever,” and then surprise us with a version of “To Sir With Love.” Some other gems include, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Proud Mary,” “Woodstock,” (one of Weiss’ best moments), to Carole King’s “I Feel The Earth Move.” Weiss even throws in one of her originals, “Find Your Way To The World.” What’s notable is the duo doesn’t attempt to mimic the artist who first gave us the song, or the period from which it came, but puts their own stamp on each one.
Musicianship: Weiss’ vocals are consistent; her pitch is spot-on, and her vocal timbre works nicely with the chosen material. She doesn’t over-sing and offers thoughtful interpretations of each selection. Finkelman’s tasteful guitar work dovetails nicely with Weiss’ vocals, never upstaging or crowding them. Overall, it adds up to a natural synergy.
Performance: Though solid on all the material, Wiess’ affinity for Laura Nyro’s rhythm and blues, and “Woodstock,” is apparent. It is also where she shines the most. It’s evident this duo is well-rehearsed and well-prepared, but they might consider more interaction with the viewer. Letting us in on why they chose certain songs, or simply providing some peripheral commentary about life in general, will go a long way toward telling us more about who they are as people, and as artists.
Summary: Moonglow offers a refreshing opportunity to hear a mashup of great songs. Musically, this duo have their act together and are very much in sync with each other, and they can now shift their focus to the more “theatrical” aspects of the show.