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Friends of the Arts show typical of venue’s quality

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Elling singing in his unique story-telling and scat-flavored style, making it...

By Norm Harris

On July 7 the Friends of The Arts in Oyster Bay presented six-time Grammy Award nominee jazz vocalist and vice chair of the National Academy of Recording Artists Kurt Elling.

Elling singing in his unique story-telling and scat-flavored style, making it clear why he was the DownBeat and Jazz Times magazine critic’s poll winner three years running.

Opening for him was vocalist Stacey Kent, who some have compared stylistically to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. As a diehard Ella and Billie fan for more than 40 years, I wouldn’t put her in that same elite stylistic category as those legendary ladies of the genre.

On the other hand, after hearing Kent deliver the lyrics to her songs, I can say that thanks to her exceptionally smooth and supportive band (that was perfectly matched to her delicate inflections) she was able to deliver some ear- and eye-catching, crystal clear lyrics.

Stylistically she is a tremendously talented performer, loaded with charisma and a sophisticated romantic style. She really did deliver the goods that night, leaving everyone wanting more. It’s no wonder that this young lady has the No. 2 spot on the Billboard jazz chart.

This past weekend, FOTA did it again but on a mega scale as they packed the house literally from the huge white performance tent to the far reaches of the great lawn, as country sensation Shelby Lynne set the place on fire as the opening act for the sizzling hot, multi-Grammy-Award-wining Prince of Blues, Keb’Mo’ and his electrifying multi-talented blues band.

Famed British guitarist Peter White and the hip smooth jazz talent of Steve Cole grace the stage July 17. That one promises to be another powerhouse show that none in their right frame of mind should miss. I know I won’t. See you there.

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