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Jazz series kicks off at Flushing Town Hall

Marion Cowings and Kim Kalesti, a swinging and colorful vocal duo, were back performing together last Friday evening in the main performance space of Flushing Town Hall after a seven-year hiatus apart. They were backed by a terrific ensemble of “Sweet” Sue Terry on alto sax, Cameron Brown on acoustic double bass, Lee Pearson on drums, and Bob Albanese on the grand piano.

Performing for an appreciative house they opened the 2004 Flushing Town Hall Spring Jazz season March 19 with two sophisticated, high-energy sets of American jazz standards rich with favorites from the song books of Gershwin, Ellington and Jobim, and featuringselections made famous by Mel Torme, Peggy Lee and “Lady Day” Billie Holiday.

Kalesti and Cowings flavored their sometimes romantic and always upbeat stylings with a selection of memorable songs including such crowd pleasers as Tony Bennett’s, “My Foolish Heart,” and the Dizzy Gillespie favorite “Since You Went Away.” They capped off their evening of musical gifts with a few creatively pleasing arrangements of their own like “Quintessence” and along the way, Sue Terry kicked the applause up a few notches when she was featured on “It’ s Not That Way At All.”

The jazz season opener was a refreshing blast from the past, with toe-tapping tunes that the fans recognized and enjoyed, as it ended on a solid note with the equally memorable tune — “If I Were a Bell”.

The jazz calendar at Flushing Town Hall this year seems to me sadly shorter then it has been for many seasons in the recent past. This is all the more a reason for not missing what’s coming up shortly at that venue. The next installment in the jazz series will be April 23 with the Latin Music Night sounds of The Jimmy Sabeter Power Sextet & The New York Express. Bringing the series along May 14 at the hall will be the renowned Bucky Pizzarelli Trio with Pizzarelli on seven-string guitar, the ever-popular bassist Jay Leonhart and piano master John Bunch.

Completing the series in a grand season finale June 4 will be “Triple Thrette,” a tribute to the grand ladies of the blues, featuring the exquisite stylings of Maxine Brown, Ella Garrett and Beverly Crosby.

Tickets and related information on this much-too-short jazz season can be found at www.golushingtownhall.org or by calling 718-463-7700.

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