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After Paquito d’Rivera‘s phenomenal set at the Inter-American Developmental Bank, I hurried over to Blues Alley to catch Jamie Broumas‘ second show. It’s hard to imagine a better home for Broumas than Blues Alley, and easy to imagine the scene in black and white—3 a.m. drunks slumped astride their chairs with their ties loosened and their hats tipped back, watching this beatific chanteuse through tired eyes, remembering (if they can) the one that got away.
Jamie and her band are very much the tight-knit combo, and—despite the late hour and inevitable second-show fatigue—few rough edges were on display last night. Marshall Keyes struck a delicate balance on sax, matching Jamie’s fluid grace with his muted, plaintive leads. Steve Rudolph, looking very professorial at the piano, spun out trillingly elegant solos and played niftily off Harold Summing‘s high-hat patterns with silvery little cascades in the upper octaves. This classic quartet approach is eminently suited to Jamie’s voice, which sails (cf. “Small Day,” “Fair Weather”) with sophisticated ease over the group’s delicate swing.
Last night’s thrilling moments were always slow and deliberate—Jamie’s gentle triplets in “Come Fly with Me,” Michael Bowie‘s syncopated double-stops, Keyes’ slow-mounting solo in “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?” Their motion as a group rarely swerved off-center, and their center was the soft purity of Jamie’s voice—retreating always, at the end of the phrase, into the supple dreaminess of the mix. Her scats and ethereal high notes are the ribbon on the package, and if at times the package is a little precious, a little too clean, don’t despair: they’re sure to mix it up on “What a Little Moonlight Can Do.”
My favorite moment came at the close of the latter song, when a simple miscommunication sent half the band to the coda before the other half was ready. “A terrible way to go out,” Jamie laughed afterwards at the bar. But I loved it. Even while righting themselves, the band were smiling and laughing. It was a moment for which they hadn’t planned. And, during their stylish, giddy recovery, it became one of their best.
Tonight I’ll be at Bohemian Caverns to see the French-American jazz quintet. Read about it tomorrow.