Billy Stritch & Gabrielle Stravelli couldn’t see it from the stage, but behind every audience member’s mask at the Kravis Center last night was a smiling face. Reason being… it’s a rare treat when artists of this caliber join forces for an evening of song. The resulting performance in Rinker Hall personified excellence in musicianship and showmanship. Stritch & Stravelli were the perfect vocalists to celebrate the greatness of two legendary singers, Mel Torme’ and Ella Fitzgerald. One thing for sure, you have to be a master of your notes and rhythms to tackle the Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme’ songbooks and credibly recreate the artistry of two of the most important jazz singers of the century.
With their own individual vocal styles and an intelligent, expertly assembled offering, Stritch & Stravelli produced an evening with some of the finest musical moments and fascinating anecdotes from the historic careers of Torme’ and Fitzgerald.
During those careers, Mel Torme’ and Ella Fitzgerald had some of the greatest pianists as their accompanists. It’s safe to say they would have jumped at the chance to have an arranger/pianist the likes of Billy Stritch as their music director had he not been a youngster taking piano lessons during those years and discovering his talent for creating some of the most seductive harmonies ever obtained from the 88 notes on the keyboard.
This was an extraordinary musical event and I was thinking, the only thing better would have been to have Mel, Ella, BIlly, and Gabarielle on the same stage…..come to think of it, they almost were.