Livestream Los Angeles, CA
Players: Scott Bradlee, piano; Jacob Scesney, woodwinds; Dave Johnstone, drums; Sunny Holiday, vocals; Adam Kubota, vocals; Aubrey Logan, vocals; Ariana Savalas, vocals; Rogelio Douglas Jr.
Material: Scott Bradlee formed Postmodern Jukebox with the express purpose of recasting popular hits into throwback styles. Old-school jazz, soul and Motown are their primary flavors. Listeners with a passion for The Whiffenpoofs or Richard Cheese will find this sprawling collective of nearly 100 performers to be utterly irresistible. Superstars receiving their quirky treatment range from Michael Jackson (“Thriller”) and Taylor Swift (“Bad Blood”) to Elton John (“Bennie And The Jets”), U2 (“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”) and Lady Gaga (“Bad Romance”).
Musicianship: Given that only a fraction of those involved in the group appeared during this hour-long livestream, a comprehensive evaluation of their talent is impossible. That said, the gang’s abundant members boast some outstanding pedigrees. Not a note was misplaced and their singers are uniformly excellent. According to their website, Bradlee and his troupe take pride in playing every note “the old fashioned way.”
Performance: Presented by Sessions Live, the stream was made possible by audio engineer Thai Long Ly and broadcast engineer Patrick Coleman. The broadcast was clearly optimized for mobile devices; pity the fan who purchased a ticket with the intention of watching via computer. Starting 15 minutes late made audience members grumpy, but all was likely forgiven once the notes began flowing like champagne. Trading vocalists and costumes between songs added crucial visual appeal. When the female singers formed as a trio, they moved in unison a la The Supremes. Rogelio Douglas Jr.’s dance moves, though, displayed the most dynamism. Throughout, Bradlee acted as master of ceremonies, introducing featured performers in between tickling the ivories on every number.
Summary: Postmodern Jukebox is a sugary treat for music aficionados of every generation. Much of the joy they impart comes from realizing which hits are being radically reimagined. In terms of musical ability, they are on par with some of Broadway’s best. The natural delight that comes with re-contextualized classics, however, wears thin over time. Many listeners will feel relieved after the lights dim on one of their powerhouse sets.