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Abou Karim - Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Jazz Singers Showcase


Mitzi Zilka, Vocals
Sunny Cohen, Vocals
Carolyn Joyce, Vocals
Matt Schiff, Guitar

Stepping into Abou Karim, makes you feel as if you're on another continent. The ceilings are high, with hanging light fixtures and ceiling fans, whirring. It's a small, elegant room, tastefully decorated. The tables are cloth covered and there are maroon velvet curtains on the front window. There's one exposed brick wall, with the others painted an appealing sage green.

Mitzi Zilka has been hosting singers here every Wednesday for two months, and she sings, as well. Every week she presents a different lineup of singers, each with their own unique style. Owner, Gus Haddad, is a jazz supporter and has long provided a venue for performers and jazz lovers.

Tonight, the singers are backed by guitarist Matt Schiff, who has performed in Portland and Europe for 30 years. He has often played at The Brasserie and performs at weddings. He's produced a CD Matt Schiff & Belgrade Friends and is working on a solo project.

Sunny Cohen is poised and starts with the cheerful, Give Me the Simple Life. Sunny's voice is well suited to Only Trust Your Heart, with her sweet vibrato. She treats us to the delightful, You Are the Sunshine of my Life, and a breezy version of Out of Nowhere. Sunny is expressive on Skylark, placing her hand on her heart. Nature Boy is sung over a Latin rhythm on guitar. Sunny ends with, and is emotive on, When I Fall in Love.

Mitzi opens with the romantic I Remember You. Next is a cheerful On the Street Where You Live. She tells us that He's a Tramp was co-written by Peggy Lee, for Lady and the Tramp. Mitzi is completely at ease and engages the audience, making us comfortable. I Don't Know Enough About You, is a charmer. Matt has an especially nice solo on Like Someone in Love, which seems appropriate with the lyrics "I find myself out gazing at stars, I'm hearing guitars......" Mitzi's voice is soulful on Georgia on My Mind. She shares a story, about a dream she had about this song. Angel Eyes is up-tempo and Mitzi has fun with Peel Me a Grape.

Carolyn Joyce begins with Gershwin's lovely, Our Love is Here to Stay, followed by Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You, and the lush, Beautiful Love. Close Your Eyes is given a Latin treatment, and Carolyn allows Matt a long solo. She follows with the optimistic Takin' a Chance on Love. Meditation swings, and Easy Living is relaxed. Carolyn ends with the lively Tangerine, and her sweet voice stays with me for a long time.

The Singers Showcase continues every Wednesday through June, ‘06. 7:30pm, $3 cover.

Abou Karim serves delicious Lebanese fare and is non-smoking. They have live jazz every Friday and Saturday night. 221 SW Pine St. 503-223-5058



Copyright 2007, Jazz Society of Oregon