Back to New York so soon after surviving the hurricane last month Joanna Strand was in top form at her concert at Feinstein’s – one of New York’s top cabaret venues last Wednesday 4th December 2012. Miss Strand took to the stage with her Flying Transatlantic ensemble right after the fabulous Michael Feinstein himself who had already entertained the audience in the earlier part of the evening. Back too were fellow hurricane survivors Romano Viazzani on accordion and John Bailey on piano, who along with New Yorker Saadi Zain on bass starred with her last month not at the Metropolitan Room as originally programmed, who due to the approaching hurricane closed and cancelled their programmed concerts, but at another top New York cabaret venue, the Carlyle where they delighted audiences alongside Bemelman’s Bar regulars the amazing Billy Strich and Jim Caruso in a rapidly rearranged concert. Viazzani and Bailey were joined this time by the ensemble’s regular bass player Nick Pini from the UK and Chris Stromquist from New York on Drums in a programme of songs which spanned both sides of the Atlantic often reinterpreted in a style which is fast becoming the ensembles signature sound.
Ms.Strand, classically trained will not shy away from singing Poulenc at such a concert of music from the jazz and popular music repertoire. She moves effortlessly between songs by composers a different as Michel Legrand and Randy Newman. Ms.Strand always puts her unique fingerprint on all the music she does and in the most tasteful and sypathethic way. The arrangements all work very well and are mostly by pianist John Bailey (particularly beautiful was his arrangement of Cole Porter’s So in love) with one or two written by accordionist Romano Viazzani too (most notably quite a dark arrangement of Windmills of your mind). The accordion certainly brings some wonderful colours to the project and is played in a very orchestral way, sometimes singing out in a voice we would all recognise and sometimes dropping back fulfilling the role normally played by other backing instruments but it always delights audiences who seem to relish its presence. One member of the audience who was heard to comment on it was star of stage and screen Tyne Daly of the unforgettable TV series Cagney and Lacy who recently starred in the UK’s production of Masterclass last year with Joanna Strand. Also present was international cabaret star and leader of the Cosmopolitan Dance Orchestra Gregory Moore. Flying Transatlantic’s resounding success should bring Ms.Strand back to New York with the band sometime in 2013. - Alec Leighton