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JAZZ REVIEW : Linda Hopkins’ Cinegrill Blues

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The crowd at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Cinegrill wouldn’t let her go, and singer Linda Hopkins didn’t want to leave. So, her opening show Tuesday stretched from an hour to 90 minutes, with three encores.

Hopkins, who has a million-watt smile and indefatigable energy, took off her shoes after the first song, perhaps the better to plant her feet in the soil of the blues. From “Drown in My Own Tears” to “Route 66,” she put the age-old idiom through its every pace.

“Deep in the Night” began with an impassioned monologue. Salutes to such colleagues as Aretha Franklin (“Dr. Feelgood”), Ray Charles (“What’d I Say”) and the Cheathams (“Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On”) were delivered with the effervescence, the bravado and the occasional falsetto squeals long associated with this singer, who is making her first local appearance in three years--since her tenure in the Broadway musical “Black and Blue.”

Hopkins performed poignantly on a gospel roundup of “Amazing Grace” and “Precious Lord"--delivered with a reminder of her faith and roots. On “Shake a Hand” she toured the room, shaking hands.

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Other encores reflected her Bessie Smith influences. One, “Gimme a Pigfoot,” was so spontaneous that the band didn’t know it, so she had to work it almost a cappella.

Aside from that lapse, her quartet--Bobby Pierce on keyboards, Robert Kyle on tenor sax, Leroy Ball on bass and Gregg Field on drums--was perfectly attuned to all requirements.

She plays through Saturday.


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