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Performance  |  Kathleen Landis performs While We’re Young: A Tribute to Alec Wilder

Part of the High Standards Series Concert Series

Thursday, March 1, 2012, 7–9 pm

Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium  

Buffalo State College's commitment to the cultural educational experiences will be reflected through the cross disciplinary presentation of the concert lecture series High Standards: The Legacy of the Great American Songbook as part of the Year of the Arts. On three consecutive Thursdays (February 23 / March 1 / March 8), the Burchfield Penney Art Center and Buffalo State College will play host to cabaret jazz greats Steve Ross, Kathleen Landis and Bob Dorough respectively.

Each of these singer-pianists has received international acclaim entertaining in intimate jazz and cabaret settings. Their main focus has been keeping the American Songbook tradition alive. All three have also played in small and large concert and hall venues. Unlike most traditional singers who offer a “list” of unconnected standards, this trio has honed the difficult but rewarding cabaret theme-oriented shows that elevate their performances to intimate theater-like experiences.

Kathleen Landis, in participation with Woman's History Month, will host an afternoon lecture/demonstration from 12:15-1:30 at the Burchfield Penney entitled The Art of Song/Women in Jazz, a discussion of the art movement's relationship to music and her 20 plus year experience at New York’s Fifth Avenue Café Pierre.The evening concert is titled, While We’re Young: A Tribute to Alec Wilder.

Kathleen Landis: From New York’s Café Pierre to Buffalo’s Burchfield Penney

How did this mid-west Detroit native become the “…sophisticated, erudite, and passionate…elucidating and entertaining,” (New Yorker) performer at the elegant Café Pierre at New York’s Hotel Pierre? Practice, practice, practice…and a great love for classical music, tango, jazz and the great American Songbook! In 1995 she wrote a letter to The Wall Street Journal saying that, “As a performer, I fill the Café Pierre with the music and lyrics of Porter, Berlin, Arlen, and a host of other songwriters who offered us a vision of a world where romance was king, and I see my audiences react with rapt attention.”

Kathleen Landis has continued the tradition of piano playing vocalists established by female artists such as Dardanella, Hadda Brooks, Blossom Dearie, and still-with-us, Barbara Carroll, Daryl Sherman and Diana Krall. All of these artists have made the fast-vanishing night club scene (saloon or salon) their home. This scene was historically dominated by men (Landis won her audition for the Café Pierre job against 17 others – all men). Her pianistic style incorporates modern harmonies with classical overtones and her demure vocal approach is, “something that is not belting, on-the-sleeve kind of thing, but a reserved soliloquy, the feeling of being alone in a garden.”

Like many of her contemporaries, Kathleen has begun to focus on theme-inspired performances such as: Let’s Misbehave! A Jazz Era Romp (flapper era tunes) and Gershwin: Island to Island. Cuban Overture Fantasy. Keith Meritz of Cabaret Scenes wrote, “Kathleen creates an aura of nostalgia that makes one feel as if you’ve stepped back into the elegant Café Society of the ‘20s and ‘30s with authentic period evening gowns, jewelry and accessories from her classic coif down to the toes of her period correct shoes. When she plays, those classically trained hands bring life to some of the finest music of the period.”

Kathleen has performed lecture/demonstartions on jazz improvisation at Steinway Hall and Montclair and Bard Colleges, She is also known for her passion and playing of tango music, performed at Lincoln Center's new stage at the David Rubinstein Atrim this past December to a sold out auditorium. She, along with violinist, Sarah Geller and dancers featured music ( arranged by Landisand Geller ) from Cuba, Brazil and Argentina featuring old and new tango, especially focusing on the music of Astor Piazzzola.

In addition, Kathleen performed at the 26th Annual Friends of Alec Wilder concert in New York City in 2011.

Kathleen Landis will be performing a truly unique evening of songs entitled, While We’re Young: A Tribute to Alec Wilder with Buffalo's Bobby Millitello. Alec Wilder was a graduate of Eastman School of Music in the 1940s. He came to New York as a contemporary composer of classical music who distained popular music until he heard Frank Sinatra’s vocals. Leaving classical music behind, Wilder became an ardent follower of the great songwriters of Tin Pan Alley. His critical tome, American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950 (1974), suggested that the better works of Berlin, Gershwin and their peers could stand up to Bach and Mozart was revolutionary to some. Wilder viewed the “great songs” of these Tin Pan Alley tunesmiths as miniatures that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the great classical selections.

So Kathleen Landis will provide her audience with a rare treat of treasures that were favored by some the greats of cabaret; Mabel Mercer (“While We’re Young,” “Did You Ever Cross Over to Sneeden’s?”); Jackie and Roy (“It’s So Peaceful in the Country,” Marlene VerPlanck (“Blackberry Winter,”), Marian McPartland "Moon and Sand" , among others. Jeanne Lieberman of the New York Law Journal contends that Landis’s interpretations are “…replete with complicated chord progressions. Don’t be surprised to hear a little Bach in her Bernstein, Mozart in her Mercer.” Her's is a perfect connection for the Alec Wilder show, Thursday, March 1, at the Burchfield Penney at 7:00 pm. See you there.

The afternoon presentations are hosted by Buffalo State music professor Chuck Mancuso, author of Popular Music and the Underground, and coordinator, promoter and founder of this series, Buffalo State graduate, Ari Silverstein. All evening shows begin at 7:00 pm.

The events are funded thanks to the support of an FSA Grant and the Office for Student Life at Buffalo State in collaboration with the Burchfield Penney.