It was few minutes before Shirley came onstage. The crowd was a bit more seasoned than usual. These were the true jazz lovers filled with many stories of years of great music. I often find I am one of the younger cats in the audience at her concerts. It makes me think that this was the kind of evening my dad would have enjoyed. I instantly noticed a microphone at the piano. Could it mean that our old friend will back at the helm of her Steinway? I sure hope so for I know that great piano has missed her magical touch.
Shortly after 8pm, her band came onstage and opened with “Bye Bye Blackbird” and once they were done, Shirley was brought centerstage and she opened with the bouncey “Forget Me” and a bossa nova rendition of “How Am I To Know.” She was in great voice and filled with energy, undaunted by life’s challenges of the past year. She slowed the room with “A Time For Love” and swung on “Take Love Easy” and then came her sultry, sexy version of “Fever” which has become a staple of her shows in the past few years. She lulled us with her poignant deliverance of “Yesterday” but it was interrupted momentarily by the crash of a tray of drinks during the first verse. She laughed and continued to lull us through the rest of the song. She looked regal and elegant as ever as she took us through “Old Country” and the velvety “I Got Lost In His Arms.” She also featured “Just In Time“, the sensual “Beautiful” and the playful “Something Happens To Me.” She introduced the title track to her new album, May The Music Never End, which was written by Artie Bulter who also composed her closing song, “Here’s To Life.” Just a wonderful evening with a great lady.
I came back with a friend for second evening of Shirley’s captivating music. This was her second show of the evening and while she sang several of the songs from the previous night, there were some delightful surprises. Her band opened with “What Is This Thing Called Love” and Shirley opened with “How Am I To Know.” She also included in her set “Beautiful Friendship“, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered“, and “Nice and Easy Does It.” Tonight she sang “Yesterday” with the innocence of a young lover whose heart had been newly broken. She gave us a surprise rendition of “I’ll Be Seeing You” and closed with “Here’s To Life.” It is always a pleasure to hear her music and a joy to see her live in concert.
She was accompanied lovingly by George Mesterhazy on piano, newcomer Ed Howard on bass who has known her since he was 14, and her soulmate Steve Williams on drums.
We got to go backstage after the concert and I really tried my best not to be starstruck. She was very kind and gracious. I gave her a kiss on the cheek and thanked her for her wonderful music and great performances. That truly made my evening. May the music never end.