MUSIC REVIEW:

It may have been hot outside Saturday night, but inside Glendale’s Luna Playhouse it was an evening as cool as the smooth jazz Phyllis Chang and her band was playing.

Chang, a singer-songwriter native to Los Angeles, kept her audience from worrying too much about the heat as she serenaded them with a mix of jazz and pop classics, as well as a few of her own original tunes.

“My music is very personal,” Chang said. “I try to write things that are beautiful and from my heart.”

I doubt anyone listening to her Summer Serenade Concert would argue with that. Chang opened with fan favorites like “Besame Mucho,” “Just The Way You Are” and “The Way You Look Tonight,” as well as many other jazz standards. She spent the second half of the evening performing mostly her own songs, though. Her sultry alto voice proved to be quite versatile as she smoothly made the transition between deeply passionate love songs and richly upbeat jazz numbers. Accompanied by her band, Serenade — talented musicians playing keyboard, bass, flute and percussion — Chang was able to display her talent for performing songs in a wide range of styles and tempos.

But it wasn’t just the music that kept everyone in the playhouse entertained. In between each song, Chang spoke warmly to her audience about her love for music and the background of each original tune. She also included anecdotes about her family and growing up listening to her older sister sing what became some of Chang’s favorite songs. To add even more of a personal touch to an already intimate evening, she gladly chatted with the crowd gathered around the refreshment table during a brief intermission.

However, the highlight of the enjoyable summer evening came at the very end of her set. After singing original tunes off of several of her studio albums — even picking the guitar up for a few — Chang finished the night with two more covers, “Stand By Me” and “You’ve Got a Friend.”

She didn’t just sing by herself, though. Chang turned the concert into a sing-along, encouraging audience members to pick up the choruses with her. Despite the heat that prevailed over everyone outside the playhouse, the audience inside sang comfortably along, capping off their smooth, cool evening with Phyllis Chang.

To hear her music, visit www.phyllischangmusic.com.


 BRIAN MCGACKIN attends USC’s graduate creative writing program, focusing on poetry and literary critical analysis.

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