Joan Collaso

DuSable Museum, Chicago, August 15, 2010
Joan Collaso
Joan Collaso

Story and Photos by James Walker, Jr.

Joan Collaso's August 15th concert at DuSable Museum was simply magnificent. Performing before a SRO house with a cast of some of Chicago's finest musicians, they held the audience spellbound from the moment the cast walked on the stage to the finale honoring Lena Horne with "Home."

Joan's a seasoned veteran who really knows how to put a show together. She chose to pay tribute tribute to Nancy Wilson and the unheralded Shirley Horn, in addition to recognizing Lena Horne after her recent death.

Joining Joan were veterans, keyboardist/musical director Larry Hanks, drummer Ernie Adams, multireedest James Perkins, bassist Josh Ramos, and twelve year old violinist Mira Williams and sixteen year old vibraphonist Thaddeus Tukes. In addition, Joan's daughters Rayzine, Jeanetta, and Vern Allision performed backup vocal duties. Dominique Cook and Regina Taylor added flash to the evening with dazzling dancing throughout.

Joan's initial set honored Shirley Horn and included "I Like It," "Nice and Easy," "Peel Me A Grape" and "Here's To Life." Her version of "Peel Me A Grape" was particularly pleasing to the women in the audience. Perkins' solo on "Nice and Easy," showcased his many skills as Joan delivered this number with affect and emotion. Joan concluded the first set with her all time favorite song, "Here's To Life." Joan's pianist/husband Larry Hanks complemented her on this number as she strolled to his station while he extended his solo with Joan admiring his work.

How does one select the appropriate songs to honor Nancy in a 75-minute-set. It was not easy but Joan was able to do so while apparently satisfying all present. Henry Johnson had his finest moment on "The Masquerade Is Over." Johnson is perhaps Chicago's finest guitarist and performed with both Horn and Wilson. On this number, he put the guitar down and did a cute vocal duet with Joan. The crowd loved the interaction between these two veterans.

This program had oh so many highlights, but Joan saved Nancy's signature song "Guess Who I Saw Toda,y, to perform in a theatrical manner. Dancer Regina Taylor and vocalist Vern Allison played out the role of Nancy "addressing her man" after seeing him with another woman. This was well done by all and the crowd responded with arousing ovation.

Joan concluded Nancy's segment with "I Wish You Love" as James "Peculator" Perkins heated things up with his extended sax solo. This was a nice touch to conclude the regular segment of this spectacular performance by all.

As a encore, Joan did a cameo tribute to Lena Horne with "Stormy Weather" and If You Believe."

Joan's tribute to these three divas was arguably one of the finest performances viewed by this writer in 2010. Her sparkling vocal instrument and ability to rearrange these classic songs without committing musical sacrilege impressed all assembled at the packed DuSable Museum. In addition, special recognition must be given to the young phenom players, violinist Mira Williams and vibraphonist Thad Tukes. They both performed with skill and poise on this big stage. They both have bright futures.

Joan performs throughout the Chicago area and for details refer to her website at www.joancollaso.com.

James Perkins

Dominique Cook

Regina Taylor

Larry Hanks

Thaddeus Tukes

Rayzine Collaso

Henry Johnson

Henry Johnson and Josh Ramos

Mira Williams

Josh Ramos

James Perkins & Ernie Adams

Rayzine Collaso

Vern Allison

Regina Taylor

Regina Taylor and Vern Allison

Rayzine Collaso, Vern Allision & Jeanetta Collaso

Check out other recent concerts reviews and photos

Contact James Walker and JazzChicago.net at jwjazz@att.net

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