Livestream New York, NY
Players: Megg Farrell, vocals; Ricky Alexander, clarinet, Mike Davis, trumpet; Jerron Paxton, banjo, Dalton Ridenhour, piano; Rob Adkins, bass; Tamar Korn, guest vocalist; Sara King, guest vocalist
Material: Accomplished solo artists in their own right, Megg Farrell and Ricky Alexander joined forces in 2014, fusing their jazz and blues backgrounds to recapture a transformational time in music history, when the post-World War I years transitioned from ragtime to jazz. In general, their repertoire reflects the hope and prosperity that were the cornerstones of the 1920’s.
Performing a collection of songs from their latest recording effort, I’m In Love Again, songs included gems like “My Melancholy Baby,” “Foolin’ Myself,” and the single from their upcoming release, “My Honey’s Lovin’ Arms,” a modern spin on the 1922 classic.
Musicianship: If you think you’ve stepped back in time, it is because this band has done a successful job of replicating the music of the day. Influenced by singers like Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf, Farrell’s convincing vocal portrayal of the early jazz years is due to her ability to internalize that sound and the sentiments surrounding it. Alexander, a skilled player with a background steeped in jazz studies and performance, demonstrates first-rate ensemble playing while supplying the complementary sounds to Farrell’s vocals. Other band members showcase some tasty solos, and as a unit the group’s spot-on timing and rhythmic discipline is impressive.
Performance: An upbeat, party-like atmosphere permeated the set, and songs dubbed more “melancholy” didn’t alter the tenor of the event. Other elements, like the salon-style performance space and the band’s formal attire, were incorporated into the act, further referencing the times, especially trumpeter Davis who looked like he stepped out of a page of The Great Gatsby. The show, divided into two sets, ran too long for a streaming platform, but to their credit, the band did mix it up with guest singers and the occasional duet.
Summary: Farrell and Alexander have created a unique niche, one that not only lends itself to a showcase format but is suitable for specific themed events. Pulling back on the length of the set for streaming purposes would tighten up the act and ensure more viewers’ undivided attention. Their new album is scheduled for release on June 11th.