The recurring cries and whispers about the absence of major talent in the male jazz singing field are taking a major hit this week via Andy Bey's stunning performances at the Jazz Bakery. In fact, if there's a better jazz singer than Bey -- male or female -- in action these days, I, for one, would like to know who it might be.
In his opening set Tuesday, he offered what can only be described as a brilliant display of state-of-the-art jazz.
Start with Bey's voice, with a range reaching from whispery falsetto to booming bass, enhanced by a range of timbres encompassing everything from sensual, purring sounds to high-spirited, instrumental-like scat singing.
Add to that his extraordinary sense of rhythmic timing, apparent in his vocals as well as his piano playing, in which he places his notes in precisely the right spot to generate the greatest propulsive energy. And let's not forget the fashion in which these qualities come together into a dynamic combination, easily adapting to the intricacies of Bey's rich tapestry of programming -- a further reflection of his restless musical inventiveness.
Backed by bassist Robert Hurst, drummer Ralph Penland and, on a few numbers, by acoustic guitarist Sheryl Saunders, Bey presented shifting instrumental combinations to match his interpretations of each tune. The ballads -- "Some Other Time" and "Like a Lover" -- were offered in airy, musically transparent settings, allowing him to reach into the songs' hearts.
"Get It Straight" (based on Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser") was a marvelous example of what true scat singing is all about.
Where and when
Where: Jazz Bakery, 3233 Helms Ave., Culver City
When: Through Sunday
Info: (310) 271-9039