KATE BAKER and Pangea are all kinds of cool
Going through Pangea’s front door last night was like coming home. The restaurant that has fought to stay alive throughout the pandemic retains the warm, welcoming vibe and all the energy of the neighborhood that makes it a favorite of Manhattanites across the city, not just regulars who can’t. never tire of delicious Mediterranean dishes and family atmosphere. Delighted to be back in this place that I love so much, after the affectionate greetings of the whole Pangea team, I settled in my chair in the cabaret room where the Alt Cabaret movement began to enjoy a hour of jazz music, which is also one of the genres that Pangea regularly offers its customers.
Hosted by singer Ben Cassara, the Hot Summer Nights Jazz Series debuted last week with Sheila Jordan and continued last night with Kate Baker. hour of awesome music and delicious humanity – enough to get me home and check my calendar for future engagements of Mr. Cassara’s creation. What Ben has brought together with his efforts is exactly what the summer heat needs: a chance to get out of the house and visit a cozy place where the menu is perfect in price and pleasing to the palate, where drinks and the air conditioner are sufficiently cool, and where the music and atmosphere are comfortable and relaxed. Well, Ben, you did. Last night this writer was able to sit back, relax and let the mind go where Kate Baker wanted to take it … and the musical journey was good, indeed, good enough to take the subway in the hateful heat. .
A jazz set, rather than a cabaret show, Mrs Baker’s musical evening was an evening without a theme, an hour of songs that she and her band love to play and play for others, and each selection was very enjoyable from the jazz point of view, but also from the point of view of listening to good music. With a group behind her that were so exceptional (especially pianist Rachel Z) that this writer would put money in just to hear them, Baker was safely protected at all times, as he worked on Rodgers & Hammerstein, Carole King, Henry Mancini or his. composition. At the start of the performance, Ms Baker remarked that it was “like riding a horse back” and that it wasn’t the only time during the hour that she was referring to her long hiatus from concerts, presumably because of the pandemic. Vocally speaking, Kate Baker has not suffered any loss of skill in her spare time – her instrument is in great shape, and so is her technique. With her engaging voice and a clear knowledge of her craft, Ms. Baker puts on a show that serves as both lesson and entertainment. Watching how she leads the band members in her visions, both artistic and technical, is as interesting as listening to their music is fun – there is such a clear relationship between the band members and such respect for their craft, that an experience that maybe only audible is made visible, which effectively increases the stake for everyone in the audience. At no point did the on-stage debates fall below the threshold of “interesting” and as the night wore on the room leaned more and more toward solace.
Kate Baker was right to get back on horseback, but not as she thought. While she was musically in point from start to finish, Ms. Baker was shy on stage, and it showed … but only for the first four numbers. By the time she got to her fifth issue, “Harvest Moon,” shyness escaped her and a daring playfulness took center stage with her, becoming more and more prevalent throughout the set until the woman on stage was smiling and beaming, resplendent in her reverie unfolding in real time. With each new track came a longer story about the composition, what it meant to her, how it was created, accompanied by a one-on-one chat with friends in the audience, and can – even being a little blasphemy that made people laugh. , as the jazz specialist delved more deeply into the music, the moment and the memories she relived, and those she made for herself. It was like watching a flower bloom in time lapse, and it was a thing of beauty, full of humanity, art and life experience that connects us all.
Kate Baker is, officially, back on the horse, and she needs to book more dates at more clubs, preferably Pangea, and preferably sooner rather than later.
And Pangea – thank you for staying on the horse. New York, the East Village and the cabaret industry would be so much less fun if you weren’t there. Thanks for hanging out there.
The Kate Baker group is made up of musical director Rachel Z on piano, Jon Toscano on bass and Anthony Pinsiette on drums, with Kalena Nash as backing vocalist.
See what other great shows are coming to Pangea HERE.
Visit Kate Baker’s website HERE
Photos of Stephen Mosher